MONTHLY SURVEY: Online Schooling?

BY Mariella O’CURNEEN. EEB4. S6ENB.

Edited by Filip KALAPISH. EEB4. S7DEA.

The latest survey question on the 13stars Instagram account was very simple. Just two words with a yes or no answer.

The question was: Online schooling?

37% said yes and 63% said no

These results were very interesting because when I posted this survey, I was sure that a lot more than 63% of people would say no. So, why do some people like online schooling and others don’t?

Instagram poll @13stars_newspaper (May 2020)

First and foremost, it is crucial to outline the difference between home schooling and online schooling. Probably the most important distinction is that home schooling is when the student’s parent or tutor is at home to teach them and they are able to choose their own curriculum. Online schooling on the other hand (otherwise known as virtual school or distance learning), is when a student is remotely/virtually taught by their teachers, whose precise locations are irrelevant, and everyone follows their school’s predefined curriculum.

Students, of course, have a wide range of reasons (and ulterior motives 😉) to like online schooling, but these are a few that, in my opinion, most will have in common.

Firstly, assuming you are an ‘I need my silence to focus’ kind of person, it is easy to see how the quiet at your room is favourable over the screeching background noise of a regular classroom. When students are at home, they won’t be surrounded by loads of people, all making noise, which means that it’s much easier to concentrate and (hopefully) get the work done. This, combined with the fact that there is no travelling involved, makes distance learning much more efficient than going to school. (Not taking any sides here, but with a one hour ride to school— trust me)

Another point well in favour of online schooling is that students are able to stay in the comfort of their own homes without having to put in the effort of getting dressed to leave the house. Nor is there a reason to stress over having everything they need to take with them; not to mention having to prepare (and not forget to take) their lunch! Although in all fairness, we still all need to eat; but hey, at least it’s easier to improvise when and what to eat last minute…

On that note, staying at home also means you can go and get something to eat whenever you’re feeling peckish and, probably one of the best things, is there’s no need to have to ask to go to the toilet!

I have to admit though, the best thing about being at home is being able to sleep more and (perhaps health-wise not very advisory) also not having to get out of bed to go to class! (Still wondering why no one turns their cameras on?)

So, with all these ‘perks’ of virtual learning, maybe you are already growing doubtful of that ‘no’ you submitted at our Instagram poll, provided you are one of the 63% majority. Or maybe you still haven’t lost grip of all the downsides that rushed in uninvited from Day 1 of distance learning? Here are for reasons that appear most influential in tipping the scales towards a negative overall experience:

Firstly, as everyone is communicating from behind their screens, proper discussions that are held in classes of the likes of L1, philosophy or Ethics/Religion can’t take place anymore. Instead, teachers are left struggling with what few options they have to keep up with the mandatory progress… As it is undisputable that such discussions need real human contact to have a meaningful educational value and interaction level, moving forward in the aforementioned subjects quickly proved to be rather challenging for both parties, students and teachers.

Secondly, it can be hard to keep motivated and interested when there is no real interaction and you are on your own. And as much as we like to think how independent and self-governed we all are, it’s fair to say that it really comes down to the small things: for instance, if something happens in class, you make a smug/witty comment about it to your friend or if you don’t understand something, you can ask a friend to explain it to you. Without having others around it can be hard to keep yourself motivated. (I’ll politely avoid the topic of procrastination at this point, but we all know where that would go…)

This brings me to my last, but by far not least, point which is that in lockdown we have not been allowed to see people. This has meant that a lot of students have become quite lonely (and let’s face it—depressed) because, although we all communicate using social media, it’s not the same as having a good old laugh with a friend or going out to meet new people or just having a proper face-to-face chat. These are people who we have grown accustomed to seeing around us on an daily basis, so when we suddenly can’t see them anymore, it surely has negative impacts on us.

Although there are some very positive aspects to online schooling, there are also certain things that make it very difficult to cope with and, as the poll proves, the negative aspects do indeed outweigh the positive. Fortunately, this will not last forever, which is why we must do our best to keep pushing on until the end of the school year. Without a doubt, many of us have already begun changing our understanding of ‘normal’; and that’s a good thing, since we will most likely not ever return to ‘how thing were’.  But we will surely move on, all the fitter, all the wiser!

Stay strong everyone, we’re nearly there!

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