Online Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Multiperspectival Narrative of Vietnamese University Students
Keywords:online learning, pandemic, storied experiences, autobiographical narrative inquiry, mental support
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, online learning has become more popular and challenging in the panorama of higher education in Vietnam. However, there has still been very little research strongly focusing on the lived experiences of online learners, especially the English-major students in Vietnamese universities. In this paper, I retell the process of my students’ collaborative autobiographical narrative inquiry into their lived experiences of learning online under the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic at a technology university in southern Vietnam. My research wonders come from two questions: (1) What is online learning? and, (2) Who are the Vietnamese students in this space? Early in our time together we came to understand how the narrative beginnings shaped our wonders in relation to online learning. We then employed collaborative autobiographical narrative inquiry as our research methodology to better understand the experiences in online classroom communities and our relationship with the institutional, social, cultural, and personal narratives before, during, and after the students’ online learning journey. Through process of telling, retelling, and reliving those storied experiences, the students came to learn that their experiences of online learning have not been fully paid attention by the instructors and university; the online learning journey still lacks physical and mental support; and, intimate relationships with family and ‘learning buddies’ could help them overcome the challenges. Finally, we engaged in the questions of “so what?’ and “who cares?” to shape the forward-looking stories that we hope for those being and becoming online learners.