A student’s view on educational options during the pandemic
While listening to the reports on the number of new COVID-19 cases and new restrictions, I came across a common (now answered) question during these trying times. Are we going back to school or are we staying at home? Of course, both options have their own pros and cons, so let’s discuss them thoroughly.
“In traditional schools, you’re penalized for making a mistake. But that won’t work in the new informational culture, in the digital world we live in today.” -Daniel Greenberg
To begin with, let’s take a look at online classes and how they work. Students participate in video conferences every day and learn with the help of technology. The first con of these kind of classes is exactly the amount of technology we have to use. All classes, homework and materials are in a digital format, which compels us to at least 10 hours of screen time every day. Students often suffer from headaches or are unusually tired from looking at a screen all day. Yes, it is exhausting, especially in the morning when students log into their classes as soon as they wake up and they just stay there which leads us to the next problem. Students are not obliged to do any physical activity which results in most of them forgetting about exercise. Again, this is a problem that students let happen to themselves, as they could go for a walk after school but usually they do not. The last and probably the biggest problem of online classes is Internet connection. A lot of students and teachers have problems with their networks and consequently are not able to follow classes smoothly. And let us not forget about problems with uploading documents and files management. Regarding the cameras that are needed to ensure participation in online classes, a lot of students and teachers feel uncomfortable sitting in front of a camera.
There are, however, some pros of this kind of learning. To start with, waking up is not a big issue anymore because we don’t have to wake up early to get ready and travel to school. We just wake up, dress up and sit in front of our computer. Students are not as exposed to the virus, which is the main point of online school. Everybody is safe at home, without having to worry about masks, social distancing or similar things that can affect the students’ concentration in real school, and even cause a lot of stress. Also, students are listening to their classes in the room they feel calm in, in the clothes they feel comfortable in and usually even with a warm drink in their hands to warm themselves with. Lastly, students save a lot more time, considering that they do not have to travel to school and back, and tend to have better sleeping schedules.
Real school is completely different. We are close to our friends, we are able to talk to them and are overall more exposed to the world around us. Almost all the students I talked to wanted to go back to traditional classes in school again because they missed talking to their friends. The matter of the fact is that social interaction is very important while growing up and it is the thing we are missing in online classes. As for the amount of physical activity, when attending classes in school, we are able to move more, traveling to and from school and from class to class. Both activity and social interactions are important and the lack of that has made a lot of students feel emotionally drained due to the fact that they have had online classes for weeks. Apart from that, handling materials and learning is way easier in traditional classes, as well as working in groups.
On the other hand, social distancing, masks and all other restrictions of course, are getting in the way of social interaction in traditional classes at the moment, so some students ignore them and put themselves and their colleagues at risk. There are other students who follow all measures and look after themselves and others and they become really annoyed by the careless actions of their peers which results in stress and fights. After all, all of these sudden changes, rules and restrictions are really pushing us to the edge.
Some of the things that I have written above, such as working in groups, are not really preferable in these times, considering that we are in the middle of the pandemic, and have turned into cons because of it. It is really hard to organize classes the safe way because of the number of students and the size of classrooms the school can offer, which is why online classes were brought in as a temporary replacement.
Now, to conclude, I think that online school is preferable if the risk of getting infected with the virus is high, even though it isn’t the best way of learning. Luckily, the situation in our country is getting better so we are returning to traditional classes. Don’t be fooled though, you might need a week or two to get used to the old ways of learning. With that said, keep your head up and stay safe because we are slowly getting back to our old normal.
Written by Tina Milijaš