COVID-19 has affected last spring semester, part of our summer, and, for some, this new school year. Since schools closed last March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, online learning has taken on a larger role than ever in the school experience.
Online learning is not new. In the past, groups of students like seniors planning to graduate a semester early have taken online classes; however, this year it seems more students than just seniors are using online school to not only move faster through school but also to socially distance themselves.
Parents and students felt nervous to come back to school and risk exposure to the virus, but they also wanted to return to school for activities, personal learning, and to socialize. Luckily, they had two solutions to this problem. Students had the choice to go half and half, working both online some days and in the classroom on others.
Going online has some benefits for students, especially seniors. Some seniors choose to graduate a semester early with the help of online instruction, sometimes as early as a couple months after starting their senior year. Keigan Johns attended online school this year to get a head start on her nursing career and will graduate in October.
Of course, wrapping up 9 months of school in just a few months takes work and discipline. “The worst part is a lot of assignments, lol, but best part is I can do them whenever I want,” said Johns.
Being able to do your school work whenever you want can be nice, but you better not forget to actually do it and get it turned in on time! Chesney King said, “The amount of assignments you get are pretty much the same; it is just getting the desire to finish the assignment that is hard.”
High school has many fun activities going on during the year and those attending school get to enjoy them all with your friends. Online kids don’t get to experience much of the school activities because they are at home. Are they missing out? “It depends. I don’t really care about the activities, and I miss my friends, but other than that, I don’t care,” said Johns.
Friends are a super important thing for teenagers, so going online can be tough, especially if all your friends are at school without you. But for Chesney King, that does not matter. She said, “I like online better because then I don’t have to social.”
Learning on line means a teacher has to teach online. English teacher Mrs. Hooper not only teaches online classes but she also coordinates all the online learning at the high school. Hooper explains that teaching both online and face to face (F2F) school takes a different mindset, approach, organization, and good time management. Some teachers might find this hard to do and prefer teaching in person with their students. “I think ‘hard’ is a relative term: what is hard to one person isn’t necessarily hard to the next,” said Hooper.
Hooper enjoys teaching in cyberspace. “I prefer the online teaching. I feel like I’m not wasting students’ time—they can progress at their own pace. I feel like if a student is struggling with something we can spend more time there without holding up the rest of the class.”
While online learning might not work for all kids, some online students are committed and are ready to learn from home. Students who would sometimes rather sit on the couch in pj’s and go to school and other times want to interact with other students and teachers in person, might discover the half and half approach works best for them.