Virtual Learning: Ugh
The time is 7:53 am. You open your computer and are blinded by the white Brightspace homepage before you join your 8 am Zoom class. You stare at 30 grey squares for an hour while your teacher explains the lesson, you struggle through your homework assignments, and then you wait. 10 am? Same thing. 30 grey squares. Monotonous lectures. And again at 12:30. Repeat day after day. This is how an 11th grader at Portland High School described virtual learning and has been the reality for many high school students across Michigan since mid-November. Portland High School students returned to in-person schooling on January 4th, but many schools are still doing virtual learning, and this is what it’s like.
Virtual schooling can be draining. Information is harder to understand through a computer screen, and with half the normal class time, students aren’t learning as much and aren’t given the guided work time they would normally receive with in-person schooling, meaning it’s a lot harder to get help when something doesn’t make sense.
In addition, students are also struggling to focus. Many students keep their cameras turned off during Zoom meetings, which prevents teachers from knowing whether or not they’re paying attention. This, combined with working from home, leaves a lot more room for distraction. Junior Kylie Salas described how much easier it is to get distracted by her cell phone than during in-person schooling. She also found it was more difficult to find motivation to complete assignments when she had the freedom to do other things like text her friends and watch tv.
However, virtual learning also has its advantages. A Portland freshman enjoyed the flexible schedule that came with virtual learning. Because she was able to efficiently complete her assignments, she used her free time between Zoom meetings to do what she wanted to do instead of having to sit quietly in class like she would have had to during in-person learning. This class structure teaches students time management skills that many don’t learn until college.
Students were also given the opportunity to pick up another valuable life skill: collaboration. With the ability to text each other, students were able to work together on assignments in ways that their teachers may not have allowed during in-person schooling. This is an important life skill because many real-life jobs encourage or ever require collaboration among colleagues.
The time is 2:20 pm. You finally get to leave your last Zoom call. You close your computer, lay down on the floor, stare at the ceiling, and cry.
Teaghan Lathers is a Junior at Portland High School. This piece is written from her own perspective as a student during virtual learning.