The remote learning experience
April 26, 2020
The rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced several drastic changes for the lives of people worldwide. Chief among those changes, however, is the shift to online schooling.
Far gone are the seven hour long days that once defined America’s school system, and replacing them is a new routine that seems to reap several benefits.
And such benefits are obvious. Considering the somewhat nocturnal habits of most teenagers, the new freedom of schedule allows for more much-needed rest, which is crucial for physical, mental, and emotional health. Likewise, students can arrange to do their assigned schoolwork at their own pace–schoolwork that’s often an abbreviated version of what teachers may assign usually.
Fulton County Schools’ remote learning schedule, for example, has shortened the school day into just two hours a day, and of only one subject. Needless to say, such a substantial change in daily education allows for more free time than high school students are commonly used to–free time we can utilize for everything from playing video games to whittling.
Not to mention, with all schooling now completed in the comfort of one’s home, there’s no one to frown upon us wearing pajamas all day or leaving our bedhead untouched.
All of this sounds like a fairy tale–any high schooler’s dream–but is it really? Barring the obvious pandemic raging just beyond our doors, there are other less than desirable aspects accompanying the new online shift.
For one, face-to-face school was not only a learning environment, but a social one; many of the daily social interactions that added color to any school day have been reduced to sporadic Zoom meetings. Of course, it isn’t just high school students that are coping with decreased social interaction, but still the isolation has its obvious disheartening effects on mental health and motivation.
There is something about being surrounded by other students and teachers that often fosters a certain demand for achievement, after all. Without that environment, it’s easy to fall into a slump and lose the motivation to get your work done. “I am definitely more productive at school,” says one Milton student. “At home I have no motivation to do anything…”
Even when that motivation is there, though, sometimes it’s difficult to find a quiet, effective workspace to get your assignments done. With entire families all sequestered at home, interruptions and distractions are bound to occur.
Finally, not all families are in the same boat. Lower-income families, for example, may not have the necessary technological resources to keep up with online work. In a similar sense, school was the place where several lower-income students got their daily meals, and while school districts have set up meal distribution systems, the families who need those meals still have to drive out and physically retrieve them.
The basis is this: the move to digital learning has its upsides and downsides, not unlike the coronavirus situation in its entirety. However, while we wait for the world to return to its usual pace, we should focus less on what we no longer have and more on what we do. So read a book, catch up on a television series, maybe spend a little time in the kitchen. It’ll be over before you know it.