Of the multitude of ways that the coronavirus has turned our world upside-down, perhaps the most relevant to us as students are the closure of schools and introduction to distance learning. At first, this was implemented as a temporary solution but has slowly transformed into our new normal. With distance learning in play for well over a month, students and teachers alike have adapted.
I could sit here for weeks and list the many ways that distance learning is inconvenient or ineffective, but no one wants to hear the same complaints anymore. Instead, I’m here to point out the positive aspects of the modified educational experience to help you make the most of this unique time. Like the majority of students, I was slow to accept distance learning as a reality but quickly learned how to enjoy and cope with it. Primarily, I love how distance learning allows students to work at their own pace or convenience. Often times, I’ve felt crammed to finish my work at a certain time but now hold the luxury of completing it at my own pace. Additionally, the absence of extracurricular activities leaves students with previously jammed schedules plenty of time to thoroughly complete assignments. While certain assignments may be conducted better on paper or in a classroom setting, the extra time that distance learning provides allows for concepts to still be addressed sufficiently. Furthermore, teachers have given students a plethora of opportunities to reach out for extra help. After previously being confined to free periods and activity period, I find very flexible to be able to contact teachers when necessary as they have made a strong effort to make themselves available. Thus, even if the learning during class time is lackluster, students have plenty of time to make up for it by seeking extra help.
On another note, I believe that not having formal tests and quizzes is extremely beneficial. Instead, many classes have fully dedicated themselves to the project-based learning initiative that the district outlined at the beginning of the year. I have found that without the stress of cramming for a large test, I am actually better and retaining information. Additionally, I think it is much more enjoyable to learn new concepts without the pressure of having a graded assessment about it. Rather than focusing on a culminating test, we can truly appreciate learning new ideas and skills, which I feel goes for granted in traditional school.
Lastly, most obviously, is the comfort aspect of online learning. It’s hard to complain about being able to sleep in and stay in pajamas throughout the school day. I find nothing more enjoyable than waking up and getting right into a calculus lesson with Mr. B without even leaving my bed. For the sleep-deprived students of Blind Brook, which make up a majority, this aspect of distance learning must be a blessing.
Of course, distance learning overall fails to compete with traditional schooling. There are few things I wouldn’t give up to be able to walk the halls once again. However, we are faced with the cold reality that this is unlikely to change for an extended period of time. Thus, in order to cope with this new situation, we must look at the bright sides and appreciate the opportunities they have given us.