Ryann Daugherty

With the district providing learning options for students, two staff members, Audrey McCaffity and Margo Friloux, share their unique perspectives on online versus face-to-face learning.

Learning the right way

TRL’s Audrey McCaffity and Margo Friloux share differing opinions on their online learning experience for the first three weeks of school

September 3, 2020

Students learn best in many different ways. With the new options for school this year, finding what works best for students may be harder than before. TRL’s Audrey McCaffity explains why online learning benefits students, and Margo Friloux shares why online learning falls short.

Virtual is best

Online school creates a well-rounded day for students that is beneficial to them. With the ability to do work synchronously and asynchronously, students are provided with much needed time to relax, as well as an adequate amount of time to get work done during school hours. 

Most problems that students face with online school can be fixed by students themselves. For example, while some students may complain about the lack of interaction in breakout rooms and class Zooms, they should instead be trying to start a conversation as best as they can. Online school shows who is willing to step up and lead by example. 

Online school also eliminates the time students spend traveling to and from school during the day. This may seem like an insignificant advantage to e-learning, but this extra time can be spent catching up on much needed sleep or finishing up assignments from the previous day. 

While some may say that it is harder to learn without the in-person interaction between teachers and students, teachers are more available than ever with online school. Not only do students have class time to ask questions and gain understanding, but they also have teachers’ online office hours, as well as the ability to leave a private comment or email a teacher for a quick question. 

The flexibility that comes with online school allows students to maximize their productivity. If a student can’t concentrate during their asynchronous class time, they can take a break. Ninety minutes is a long time to go without a break, but most teachers release students from class early, giving students ample time to complete assignments, talk to friends (even if it’s just over facetime) and do other things they enjoy.

I’ll be the first to admit that not getting to see friends as frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard. While the hybrid version of  school may partially help with this, simply having some in-person extracurriculars (safely of course) provides this needed social interaction. 

Technology is not always 100 percent reliable; however, schools are being understanding  to meet the needs of students when technology fails. Technology is also constantly improving, making resources that students need to further their learning more accessible. 

For the most part, many people I talk to that don’t feel  online school is up to par, often don’t even pay attention in class when it’s in person. Being in high school, you shouldn’t need a teacher constantly checking in with you to make sure you are understanding the content. It is up to you to take charge of your learning, and get help when you need it. 

The flexibility, resources, and responsibility that online school provides allows us  to not only be successful in school, but also sets us up for success in our future. 

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No more screens

Certain circumstances have led to online learning being introduced to many students around the U.S. learning through Zoom, Flipgrid and EdPuzzle has become a way of life for students. I dislike online learning because of its awkwardness, unreliability and isolation.  

You’re sitting at home in “class,” on a Zoom, partially listening to your teacher discuss topics that have already been posted on Google Classroom. Then you hear the teacher say, “Now I’m going to put y’all into breakout rooms.” This is every student’s worst nightmare. The uncomfortableness and awkwardness of the breakout rooms are felt by every student. Once students enter the room meant to spark discussion and learning, everyone will sit there in silence until either the teacher enters the room or some brave soul speaks up. The discomfort felt by everyone sitting there, staring at each other, saying nothing, is one of the most awkward experiences. 

During in-person school, there are some classes or assignments where the teacher takes a grade for your participation in the class. For example, in Spanish classes, students are graded on their conversations in Spanish, or how they answer the teacher’s questions in Spanish. With online school, it makes it difficult for both the teacher to grade these assignments and the students to participate. 

On Zoom, the teacher may ask a question, and none of the students will know the answer or respond. This leads to everyone staring at each other and hoping the teacher doesn’t call on students individually. It can not only be uncomfortable for the students but also the teacher, because they are inevitably speaking to a silent classroom.

Although technology can be amazing, at many times, it can also be very unreliable. Throughout Zoom sessions, students’ internet connections can lag while they are speaking, and it creates another inconvenient situation for everyone in the class. When the teacher lags students miss parts of the lessons or crucial instructions which causes confusion among all the students. Zoom also tends to kick people out of meetings randomly, so students might miss part of the lesson and have difficulty getting back in. Some teachers are still new to technology and are figuring out how to work it. This causes Google Classrooms to become very unorganized and causes much wasted time trying to navigate online tools.There have also been instances where a teacher will assign a test or quiz and accidentally put in an incorrect answer as the correct choice. When this happens, students will get confused as to why they got this question wrong and email the teacher which overwhelms both students and teachers. Overall, online school’s unreliability is an inconvenience to not only students, but the teachers as well.

Sitting at home in a room by yourself all day gets to be very tiresome. The lack of social interaction throughout the day makes each day feel like it’s stringing on for hours. Although the teachers make efforts to increase the amount of interaction, it all feels uncomfortable and forced, and it’s necessary that we learn how to adapt to this way of learning. With online school, there is no talking to your friends in the hallways, having table group discussions, or partner or group activities. These are all things that I think benefit our learning environment and make going to school more enjoyable, and we currently can’t participate in them. 

Online school is something that we will have to adapt to and learn how to work effectively with it. Overall, I believe that what we are doing online is the best way to create a school-like environment, but many inconveniences come with our new way of learning.

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