Online Learning: Dream Come True or Zoom Apocalypse?
Updated: Mar 6
It seems that we may never reach a unified consensus regarding online learning and that is alright. However, we can all agree on its huge effect on society. Having gone through this experience for almost a year by now, students have shaped their own perspectives on the matter. Thus, we have decided to interview a sample of students to find out which side of the argument they resonate with the most. The views and perspectives expressed by our volunteers are discussed here in terms of pros and cons of online learning.
Three main questions were asked to all three volunteers in order to guide the conversation and get a rough representation of the student population’s opinions: what is your opinion of online learning? Why do you hold this stance? How could you improve your situation? Read on to find out what they had to say.
Regardless of the side they chose, all three volunteers had comments about the difficulties that came with this change in routine. They do not have full control with joining all the online meetings and we could easily mishear explanations; therefore, we would constantly ask the teacher to repeat what they clarified. This leads to lessons being time-consuming and not being used efficiently since we cannot directly ask teachers face-to-face what we need to understand. Furthermore, people constantly get Wi-Fi issues due to the tragic change in traffic volumes - even if they paid the most for the 'best' internet service.
Moreover, there is also the need for more intense self-discipline, requirement for motivation, and more assignments given so the students could prove that they are on track (despite how tempting slacking off may be). The real difficulties lie in the time management and organization skills, which are often more difficult at home; are in comfort zones and distractions are aplenty. It also goes without saying that internet issues are a given, and that even with relying on cellular data, connection issues seem to be a constant in our daily lives.
That said, there have been benefits. Some clarified that they are now less likely to suffer from sleep deprivation and would have a stable sleep schedule, increasing their focus. Lunch could easily be available in the kitchen (and we can all agree on just how important that is). However, students still suffer from demotivation when preparing for the day.
Our IB1 student volunteers also had some advice to give to help others deal with this experience. Firstly, make sure you join the online meeting at least five minutes earlier to prevent internet issues (it is tiring and sounds unnecessary, but the difference will be drastic- you can thank them later). Avoid all distractions and use noise-cancelling headphones if possible (looking at you pets and siblings).
We also asked our volunteers if they thought that there could be any things from this experience that may be applicable to life post-COVID-19. A point raised was that a huge advantage of online Zoom lessons is that they could be recorded, and students may have access to them later even if they have not attended. Some suggested that lessons may be recoded (even at school), so students who were absent would not need to ask other classmates for notes and simply have access to the actual lesson. Having said that, they concluded that this may encourage students to slack off more, given that they have a 'safety net' of sorts. Alternatively, an argument was made that students who are at home due to sickness or another valid reason could attend classes virtually if they are able to.
In conclusion, as with everything in life, there are benefits and drawbacks. All we can do is make the most of the current situation and (as cliché as it sounds) enjoy the moment as it lasts.