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Online Learning: A Frustrating Disaster

Roman Luckett is a High School student experiencing online learning for the first time.

Covid-19's impact on school

With Covid-19 ruining many services and businesses, possibly the most detrimental thing Covid has interrupted is education- schools around America were forced to stay closed well past the optimal return date. Schools have been pressed to produce a learning plan that satisfies everyone's needs- and in the haste to provide education, we've given up the most important part of education- actual learning. As a firsthand experiencer of this problem, I can say without a doubt that Covid is taking a huge toll on how we learn.

What happened?

On January 20, 2020, the first Covid-19 case was confirmed. This was to be the start of a whole new lifestyle, and a dauntingly serious challenge for schools across the country: How would school operate if students could no longer participate at school? Schools rely on attendance and engagement in-class to provide steady, reliable education.

At my school, the first action that was taken was that everyone quarantine for 2 weeks, and no one would be going back to school before then. Little did we know that it would be months before we would come back. Something to keep in mind is that school was shutdown for ~5 months including Summer break. This should have given the school plenty of time to put together a plan, right? Well, there is a big difference between having a plan and executing that plan. They may have had a plan well before school started, but there really was no way to know how it would really work out. I assume all the school administrators could do was hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.

Fast forward to September 2020, and my school starts the year with a zoom meeting explaining how things work. I spent most of the zoom meeting confused and concerned. The first 'school day' was really like any other first day- just that it was online. We did Icebreakers, fun activates, and learned about the teachers and staff. However, once school really started, I started to realize there was many potholes in this online education plan.

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A detour from the norm

Online school feels worlds different than in-person learning. Instead of handing in your work to your teacher, you upload assignments to a website, or email finished projects to a 'team' email for review. How much does this change affect how we learn?

Humans are social beings. We strive for attention and acceptance, and long for company and friends. Even though I am as introverted as they get, I still found myself missing my classmates and teachers. So this begs the question: Is online school detrimental to student's mental health? From my experience, I do not feel lonely or left-out because of lack of interaction with my peers- but it does feel like school is more of a chore than ever. When you have nothing to look forward to, there is no incentive to go to school at all. I miss zoom meetings because I honestly just didn't care enough to check to see if one was happening. I can only imagine how some of my more extroverted friends may feel when they log into school every day.

One thing that has not changed about my school in leu of Covid is the approach to 'learning' my school takes. It's still assignment after assignment, then a big test every semester.

Technical Issues

As with any new digital program, there were many issues with my school's online learning platform. Our school uses Canvas, a software that is used widely in schools and workplaces.

An example of one of these bugs are files that were regularly corrupted. This meant we couldn't complete the assignment or turn in work until the teacher fixed the issue, or assigned different work.

One more example is the schedules- Canvas schedules did not align with the schedules we were given from school. This lead to a lot of missed zoom calls, past due dates, and other issues.

The communication issue was (and still is) very frustrating. Let's say, for example, you need to contact your teacher and tell them that you can't upload an assignments due to a problem with Canvas. It may take hours or days for the teacher to respond, and by then you may have even more assignments to complete. This happened to me, where I had to wait almost two weeks to take a test I missed.

This is what Canvas looks like.

This is what Canvas looks like.

Learning from Mistakes

It's almost impossible to get something like online education right the first try. I'm only sharing my experience with it. Hopefully we'll work through these issues quickly, because it doesn't look like Covid is leaving anytime soon. The more we do online learning, the better we'll get at it. Right now we're still in a beta stage- fixing things as we go. And the more people who share their experience, the quicker we can form solutions. There's no time to waste when it comes to education!

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