Are We Really Learning During Online School?

Anna Vannoy, Staff Writer

Online school has been an adjustment. It is drastically different from the in-person learning we were all used to until schools abruptly closed last March. While we have amazing teachers who are doing everything they possibly can to make classes engaging and educational, I must wonder how much learning is actually happening.

For one thing, distractions are everywhere. It is extremely difficult for teachers to enforce participation now, and nothing to stop us from looking at our phones during live instruction time. Without concentration, it is nearly impossible to learn new things. Additionally, we aren’t used to learning in isolation. During in-person instruction, teachers tended to separate us into small groups for discussion and utilize partner work. Those moments of working alongside a friend or asking a teacher for help allowed students to feel connected. The sense of belonging that came with this influenced our engagement in class.

Remote learning has taken its toll on our mental health, which in turn has an impact on motivation and productivity in school that can not be overstated. According to the American Psychological Association, “psychologists who specialize in education research are concerned about how kids will cope psychologically with the ongoing loss of access to the friends, teachers, and routines associated with going to a physical campus.”

Research shows that the school environment is critical for fostering academic motivation and social development. Additionally, many students rely on schools for mental health care. According to WebMD, “…from March through October the proportion of mental-health related emergency department visits increased… 31% among teenagers aged 12 to 17 years, compared to 2019.” From the constant worry and fear from the pandemic, to the loss of our sense of routine at school, and our isolation from our friends, it’s easy to imagine that teens are suffering. With mental health crises affecting students learning from home, it’s no wonder that they are experiencing a lack of motivation, concentration, and drive, which are instrumental in earning good grades.

In conclusion, learning during this pandemic has not been easy. Most people are struggling. There isn’t an easy solution. I would like to point out, however, that we are surviving a pandemic. It isn’t possible to learn like normal when nothing else is normal. Give yourself grace. Everyone is trying their best