Distance Learning

Distance Learning

Josef Novinski, Writer

Hi, my name is Josef Novinski. Despite a lot of students returning to school, some are still at home for various reasons. There are definitely many benefits to studying online rather than coming to school, though there are also many downsides. I will cover these issues eventually, but let’s start off with the positives.

Everyone hates waking up to an alarm clock, getting out of their pajamas, eating breakfast, and contemplating the horrors to come during the morning car ride. An online student does not have to worry about this, and that’s pretty amazing. I appreciate the ability to keep my cozy pants on and make a fancier lunch than I can normally bring to school from the comfort of my own kitchen. Instead of sitting in a long car ride talking to my parents about what tests I have to take, I can run around my backyard and distract myself with time to spare. With the addition of Teams, I have the added benefit of not having to take assignments down throughout the day. This leads to much less forgotten homework, and I think this system should be worked into the normal school system due to how convenient it is.

Though there are many upsides to studying online, there are also many problems ranging from slight inconveniences to potential day-ruiners. Initially, teachers talked about turning in assignments physically, such as notebooks. This concerned me because I did not know how to do so without being there. It ended up not being a problem, but it was certainly a stressful start to the year. Teachers have also gotten better about checking in on the online students, but at the beginning of on-campus school, I simply heard the lecture (and sometimes even not all of it) while being too scared to speak up. Speaking of online presentations, a lot of the teachers have given online students a single static image to look at while giving a lecture to the present students, which makes it hard to stay engaged and take notes. Even when the cameras are on, sometimes Teams lags and we still get a static image, which is even worse when a teacher is writing on the board and all the words appear at once several minutes late. When a teacher tries to spur on an active class discussion, many on-campus classmates, devoid of microphones, are inaudible to distance learners. This is specifically worsened when a student asks a question and the teacher asks another student to answer it. Though these other issues can be somewhat remedied, not seeing friends is difficult. There are ways to communicate with people without being at school of course, but it usually doesn’t work as well.

What has the school done to help these problems? For one, no one expects us to turn anything in physically, and the teachers have gotten a lot better about putting all the assignments on Teams. They’ve also put quiz reminders on Teams which is very helpful. They’ve also gotten better about asking online people if we have all the notes down and understand a question, but there are still quite a few problems such as the static-image presentation and a lack of communication. I think it would be really helpful if the school made some sort of sanctioned group chat for each Form. Not only would it be helpful just as a general form of communication, but also for homework, quizzes, etc. It would also be a nice way to stay in touch.

It is definitely important to focus on social distancing and safety protocols, but it’s also important to focus on the people who are the most socially-distanced. I’m confident that we can rise to the challenge that 2020 has unfairly given us.