Online learning: a deeper look


By Allison Ocelus

At least one report indicates that there may be hope where education is concerned during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to an article from The Hechinger Report, John, a seventh-grader from the suburbs of Boston suffering from ADHD, has begun to thrive in school after adjusting to the online learning environment. 

The student’s mother said that before switching to online learning, John would get distracted easily and often by his classmates. However, this report articulates that the virtual learning environment has resolved John’s distraction problems by allowing him to concentrate for longer periods of time. 

The mother also maintained that John’s stress levels lowered when peer pressure from his classmates was eliminated. In fact, John’s improvement in academic performance led him to receive a certificate for educational excellence, something awarded to only a few other students at his school. All in all, this situation conveys that online learning can profoundly affect students in positive ways.

Moreover, analysis conducted by The American Academy reveals benefits of online learning, particularly for high school students.

In the article “12 Benefits of Online Learning for High Schoolers” published on Feb. 14, 2020 by The American Academy’s High School Diploma program, the author indicates that virtual schooling allows students to learn in a more convenient format. Compared to brick-and-mortar education, the virtual classroom can extend great physical distances, allowing students to learn from wherever they may be, and the benefits do not stop there.

Flexible schedules created in response to online learning enables students to devote more time to the subjects that they may be struggling in for example. Additionally, by removing a student’s commute to and from school, online schooling allows more time to be dedicated to academics.

Furthermore, students may be prompted to discover new extracurricular activities with the time that they now have on their hands because of this new learning platform. With restrictions being placed on most of these extracurricular activities due to COVID-19, however, persistent efforts have been made to ensure that students are still able to participate in a safe way, such as organizations seeking online volunteers and schools setting up virtual club meetings. 

Despite the comforts of online learning, it is important to note that it can come with detriments and hardships as well. These challenges are discussed through the direct findings from the students of eAchieve Academy, a leading charter school with the intent of making online school a pleasant experience for their students. 

As seen through eAchieve Academy’s research, online learning requires “self-motivation,” something that some students may have a hard time grasping. This is due to the fact that not all students are driven to the same extent academically, meaning that those who have less motivation in regards to school may fall behind. 

In addition, the lack of face-to-face instruction acts as an even greater setback for some students, since they may not adapt to the virtual instruction as easily as others. Moreover, the absence of social interaction in the virtual environment stirs worry within some parents who feel that their child is experiencing an unhealthy lack of intercommunication. Ultimately, this requires students to take initiative to socialize themselves. Many students are doing just that. 

Studies indicate that students have been able to successfully connect with each other via social media and other technological platforms. Aside from this, schools such as Vanderbilt University have augmented the success of safe student-interaction during the pandemic by authorizing social-gatherings around the campus lawns and halls, while following CDC guidelines. Some of these gatherings include a game of frisbee or a picnic at the campus courtyards, all while being cautious with COVID-19 in mind. 

MHS has granted the opportunity for students to socialize by offering numerous different clubs where students with similar interests can meet and thus socialize over Zoom calls. 

Some MHS students weighed in on their online learning experience so far in the 2020-2021 school year. 

Junior Matt Tang said “I dislike the setting and the lack of physical activity since students must sit in front of their computer for hours.” 

Sophomore Sophie Noller, however, drew attention to a benefit of online learning saying that it supplies “more free time for other activities.” 

And sophomore Aayati Patel remarked that “online school creates a harder environment to focus in, but also creates an environment where students can sleep more and have more time to study and do some work in between classes.” 

Online learning provides both pros and cons. Overall, it is important to acknowledge that this learning system necessitates ambition from students because if that drive is not present, students will struggle both academically and emotionally.