Online School Woes
As the first term of remote learning soon comes to a close, students express their opinions on this new learning model.
While the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe over the last few months, school districts across the country ventured into the (mostly) uncharted territory of online remote learning — with Rockwall ISD being no different than its peers. Though an overwhelming amount of parents within the district opted for the in-person hybrid learning model, nearly 35% of parents chose the online learning model — in which their students would attend school from home.
Needless to say, for many students at Heath, this new online learning model has been quite the adjustment. After interviewing 25 students, some anonymous and some named, who did not choose in-person learning, here are some main takeaways from these last few weeks.
A lesson in time management.
Due to the nature of online-learning being primarily asynchronous, students across all grades at Heath have found themselves hit with the retaliation that they need to work on managing their time at home better.
“It’s really, really easy to get distracted when you’re on the computer all the time,” said Deja Beasley, a senior.
With the entire internet at your fingertips, multiple students interviewed expressed their struggle with staying on task while accessing Canvas — often having multiple tabs open for schoolwork and social media. While the at-home learning model works for some, for others, it creates an environment full of distractions.
The workload seems … a little excessive.
While it’s completely understandable that this is an adjustment for all parties — students and teachers — an overwhelming amount of students’ gripes with this new learning module rests with the sheer workload.
“It feels like some of my teachers are overcompensating for the fact we’re at home,” said Elise Sibley, a senior. “I get that because of the different environment, it might have an effect on how we focus and intake information, but a lot of students don’t have a perfectly ideal learning environment at home, and can’t risk contracting COVID at school.”
When interviewed, students across all grades estimated that they’re spending double the time on online schoolwork compared to their normal in-person work-hours, some even stating that a “12-hour-work-day” is now their norm due to the number of assignments, videos, and other things given to complete through Canvas.
“It doesn’t help that Canvas has a very confusing layout to begin with, and not all teachers put things on the calendar or layout the week’s work in a module that crosses things off your to-do list for you, so it makes it difficult to keep up,” said an anonymous junior.
Getting ahead in your classes saves time (and your mental health).
Out of the 25 students interviewed, 17 expressed the sentiment that getting ahead in their classes allowed them to save time at home — however, not all teachers have uploaded their full, weekly lesson plans and assignments, often leading to stress being put on some students, who feel like the assignments never stop coming.
“Logging in to Canvas can feel like a barrage of new assignments, new videos to watch, new activities to complete,” said an anonymous sophomore.
A common request from nearly every student interviewed was that all assignments for the week are outlined and open on Monday, with the exception of tests and time-based prompts, as it makes it easier to get ahead and stay on top of work. By being proactive and completing classwork early, multiple students found that they were less stressed and less anxious, able to spend time not staring at a Canvas module.
Flexibility is needed on behalf of teachers, and students.
This pandemic has hit everyone in varying intensities, affecting marginalized and low-income groups the most. As students’ home lives become more and more hectic, flexibility and communication between teachers and students is needed in order to truly make remote learning work. As shown through the district’s recent grad extension to at-home learners, the online-learning model needs this kind of flexibility and forgiveness — as several students interviewed described that an extension was greatly needed.
“I was really, really behind since I’ve been working to keep up with at-home bills and finances, and my teachers weren’t exactly forgiving with their due-dates,” said an anonymous junior. “The grade extension helped me greatly, but it was still frustrating that I wasn’t allotted some sort of leniency in the first place.”
As for teachers, students should also offer a degree of leniency towards grading and communication. It’s confusing on both sides, and as we continue through the rest of this fall semester, what’s needed is a sense of connection, and consistent, open communication. All students’ circumstances are vastly different, and teachers are trying to keep up with both in-person and remote learners, as well as account for students in distress, working students, and more. The confusion and rocky start to remote learning, is simply another symptom of this Coronavirus pandemic.