Washington, DC – When the true extent of the spread of COVID-19 in the United States was realised in March, almost every state began a 2 week shutdown of their schools. What came after, was an online learning experience which was not a failure, but a hollow shell of what learning should really feel like.
In Maryland’s Montgomery County, the county decided to utilize its already existing school website called MyMcpsPortal. This website was updated to fit online learning needs; Features such as: modules, live classes, ways to submit homework and take quizzes were added.
However, when this type of learning started, it was met with widespread confusion. For example, in most of the introductory meetings held by teachers, in which they would introduce students to how online learning would work, the meetings were disrupted by a few students. These students shared their screen to display inappropriate imagery and make inappropriate jokes. The teachers, who were unfamiliar with zoom and live class software, could not mute or kick these students out and had to end the meetings. This led to confusion among students, only to be met with silence from teachers for another week. Finally, after the week passed, learning was able to truly begin.
Still, this type of learning was heavily criticized by students. As a rising junior from Winston Churchill High School, Aryaan Duggal states: “Online learning felt inefficient. It lacked structure and didn’t allow students to finish the curriculum and actually learn the end of year content … However, I still felt it was necessary for quarantine to be able to have its intended effect.”
Another rising junior from Winston Churchill High School,Thu Nguyen said: “There was a lack of motivation for me to complete all of my schoolwork, and not being able to see my teachers required me to look to outside resources for help. This was because it was more difficult to ask teachers questions on zoom or email as opposed to if I asked them a question in person.”
Online learning was also a problem for graduating seniors. Manasi Vaidya (a graduating senior from Churchill High School and future student at University of Illinois) commented, “Not only was online learning less comprehensive than in-person teaching, but it also made asking questions increasingly difficult. Moreover, the fact that I was alone while completing assignments made the work tiresome.”
Though many criticized this form of learning, it was also met with positive responses from students. Nguyen responded: “It definitely reduced the amount of stress I had felt from in-person schooling, allowing me to focus on my hobbies and other activities more.”
Graduating Seniors such as Evyenia Zoulis felt that their online schooling experience varied with classes, She said, “Online learning felt trying at times, but I still found it enjoyable for some classes such as my anatomy class. I still missed the interaction with my teachers and as a senior it felt like a very surreal experience.”
Others such as 11th grade student council vice president Sam Krakower saw the bigger impact of Online learning, “It had an overall positive impact on the environment, as it reduced the amount of paper and other stationery wastage.”
Overall, Online learning has many positives, such as allowing students to focus on their hobbies while also allowing them to study more for bigger exams such as the SAT, reducing environmental pollution. However, it also has many shortcomings, facing a lot of criticism from students about it being inefficient, lacking proper structure, feeling less comprehensive than in-person education, and creating a lack of motivation to do well in smarter students. If online learning is to continue in the fall, it needs to be improved so that these shortcomings do not distract from its actual benefits.
However, It seems online learning will continue the way it is.