Online learning falls short, encourages disconnection

Online schooling has potential—or does it? During the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools opted to convert to a completely virtual setting. This included utilizing tools like Zoom, Google Meet, Google Classroom and more. While this seems like a simple solution to a complex problem, many aspects of digital education do not fully address the needs of many students.

Many have expressed their distaste towards the schooling system as a whole. While their sentiments may be well-meaning, the current problem that schools face is more specific. The transition to online learning did not improve student learning, and was so sudden that the majority of students had difficulty adapting. Hands-on or worksheet-based classes were essentially expelled due to the pandemic. While waking up for classes isn’t exactly the dream life, in-person classes are much more preferable to waking up to stare at your screen all day.

The fact that many students and faculty still have to wake up early to teach a lesson that many students will not be able to understand completely through online learning does not seem fully productive. In-person classes provide a sense of connection, and while you may be subject to mask-wearing, the visual cues and personalization of learning help many people. This sense of connection is completely lost in an online class. Students and teachers see each other’s faces less frequently, work seems less concrete and motivation is low. The online learning environment is just not preferable to most people involved.

Students are forced to teach themselves the material that should be taught by the teacher. Though a few classes prefer this method of teaching, the “flipped classroom” is not preferable in every course. While sites like Zoom and Google Meet have added a “raise hand” feature to ask questions, it does not feel like the most satisfying solution considering the fact that for most of the class you are muted, so the question you do get to ask is a one-and-done. Teachers do try their hardest with the materials they are given, but the sudden switch isn’t enough, especially with the limited time frame they’re given. 

The online school day usually goes as follows: students typically wake up for their first period, then choose to either listen to what their teacher has to say or ignore it. This isn’t what school is meant to be; students should not have the choice of whether or not to listen to their instructors. Teachers deserve students’ undivided attention so that students can better understand the course material. 

Contrary to popular belief, most teachers do care about their students and their education. It’s usually the reason most teachers pick the profession in the first place. One major drawback of teaching, however, is that it’s hard—teachers must plan lessons, manage time in the classroom, encourage student cooperation, etc. One of the most difficult aspects of teaching is keeping students engaged, especially online. Many students love hands-on activities, and this privilege is essentially revoked with a digital platform, and the only thing to look forward to online is the occasional Kahoot or Quizlet.

Unfortunately, cheating has become a staple in online learning. There are several online programs that allow students to cheat on papers and quizzes. These programs don’t allow students to “better their education”; instead, they encourage laziness. 

As children, school was usually something to be dreaded and many share the sentiment that they’d rather be home than at school. This wish came true, but not in the way that students thought it would. In-person classes are, subjectively, better than online classes. Face-to-face interaction encourages connection, teachers can hold students accountable and students can be more productive. Hopefully towards the near future, we can find the truly perfect balance between online and in-person schooling, but until then, we will need to work with what we have.