-2021 KDIS Online Education Essay Contest 1st Prize Winning Essay-
The ‘BTS’ of Online Classes
Jong Seong Kim (2021 MPP)
Underestimated treasure! If I had to pick one word to describe my experience of online education, this is the word I would choose. Filled with expectations for new knowledge, meeting new friends, I was very frustrated to hear the decision that all the lectures would be held online in February 2021. I felt that all the opportunities to study and communicate with professors and students from all over the world were forfeited, but the COVID-19 situation forced us to adapt to the new-normal era. So, I began my first semester at home with the low expectation that classes would be like watching boring movies for hours. However, online lectures for 3 months have completely changed my thoughts about online classes. Having experienced the spring semester, now I can certainly say that online classes create a ‘BTS’ environment for students: Barrier-Free, Training Efficiency, and Sharing Knowledge. I would like to encourage other students who worry about the online class environment to join and participate in the different but wonderful learning experience.
First, online classes provide me with a barrier-free studying environment. Online classes gave me something more than that: freedom from physical, spatial, and temporal limitations. After a regular medical check-up, I was told that I needed immediate surgery in February. It was frustrating that I could not participate in the classes. Furthermore, I was unable to move outside for a couple of weeks after the surgery. However, thanks to online classes, I could participate in classes without much problem. I could stay home and take classes with my computer. As a father who needs to take care of two young daughters, I also was bound to spatial issues. Especially, due to COVID-19, daycare centers applied a strict rule that did not allow entry of kids with minor cold symptoms, and even stopped operating for weeks whenever the spread was serious. Even though my daughters could spend time by themselves, they still needed some protection from adults . Therefore, online classes which enabled me to take care of them during the break of classes were a great help. For students who were not able to participate on time, the online classes were very beneficial. Some of the friends on different continents such as Africa and South America could take advantage of online classes to take them in their daytime. Accordingly, they could spend their time wisely and conveniently. For me, a person who had to stay in the hospital for a week due to surgery, I could catch up with the valuable classes with the recorded lectures. In my opinion, online classes have freed me from various barriers in various situations.
Second, online classes provide me training efficiency. Since this was the first time for me to go take college classes fully in English, I had problems in understanding some of the classes. At those moments, I could always come back to the part I missed, then I could have a better understanding by repeating the part I did not grasp. Had it not been for those recorded lectures, I would have not been able to fully understand all the new terminology and professional approaches of KDI School. Especially for the ‘Quantitative Methods ’ class, not only was the terminology tricky but also the mathematical calculation was too fast to digest completely during the class. However, I could always come back to the online class and follow the kind instructions of Prof. Inbok Rhee, who is a truly gifted lecturer. The class truly enhanced my statistical skills. Also, online classes provide us a more comfortable technical learning environment. I took courses using computer programs such as R and QGIS. Watching the practice of the lecturer on the monitor in real-time, I could follow the presentation with my own computer conveniently. I think among the many types of classes, computer program-based courses have a special strength in online teaching based on its real-time communication and practice. Therefore, online lectures have offered me a high-quality education experience.
Last, online classes provide me opportunities for sharing knowledge and thoughts. Since KDI school provides education based on real policy matters, a wide range of issues were discussed during the classes. Students searched relevant materials and shared them in the chat box in Zoom, which helped me to understand the subject better. I especially enjoyed the ‘Urban and Regional Development’ class, which provided many opportunities to share thoughts on different cities and issues around the globe. It was one of the best courses because Prof. Yumin Ju not only had profound knowledge and wonderful leading skill but also students actively joined in and shared pieces of knowledge using Zoom technology. Moreover, an online environment helped students to participate in the class more actively. If it were an off-line class, I would not have been confident enough to stand in front of people and speak in English. However, thanks to an online class environment, I could engage in classes more passionately and actively. Therefore, an online class has contributed to improving my knowledge and communication skills.
In conclusion, I am sincerely grateful for this wonderful online class opportunity. At first, I was disappointed with the decision to move to online classes as the KDI school campus life which I had been looking forward to was gone. However, my online class experience which has provided me ‘BTS’ changed my mind . Even though I do hope to meet professors and friends in person, I can also guarantee that the training opportunities provided through online classes are also very satisfactory. At first, many people in the world did not know about or care about BTS, a boy group from a small country in Asia. But after listening to their music, a large number of people became huge BTS fans. For me, online classes were not my first expectation, but I enjoy them as much as I used to like offline classes. Albert Einstein once said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” Even though the new normal situation due to COVID-19 has made education difficult, it has also opened whole new world of opportunities for everyone. If yo u are worried about restricted learning opportunities, I want to say that where there is a will, there is a way for a fulfilling education.