OPINION: The benefits of online learning

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Liv Bohler

A screenshot of a student's Google Drive that is used to help them navigate NTI.

Liv Bohler

Online learning may be beneficial to students despite them losing the in-person connection with their teachers and fellow students.

As a junior in high school, I am experiencing a drastic change in my work environment, motivation to work as well as my love for learning. 

While the global pandemic has created many hardships in our society and disrupted my learning experience, it has also paved the way for positive change. For the first time in years our pollution is decreasing, families are reconnecting, and we are getting the chance to discover the power of virtual learning. The benefits of this system can be described in three simple parts.

First, global reach. To take an online class, a student doesn’t have to physically present anywhere at all, they only must have access to the internet. Taking the virtual route enables students to find a new work environment that is more suitable for their learning needs. 

Second, virtual climate. The power a student feels behind a screen is different than the power that they feel in the classroom. Doing class online may allow people with a shy persona to be more open with discussion if everyone is not physically in front of them. In fact, they don’t even have to show their face, only their name or photo.

Third, self-motivation. Not only does online learning allow many students to learn something new about the technology that lies within their grasp, but they have the opportunity to learn more about themselves, to learn what kind of student they are, to learn how motivation they have to learn even in cases like my own where not doing the online work or NTI has no negative impact on their grade. 

The situation prompts the question, do you work only as hard as you have to?

There are multiple directions that students have taken in light of the switch to online school: select students will grab their phone, open to a social media page and start scrolling all while laying back on the couch and binge watching Netflix’s latest young adult sensation. Conversely, some students will choose a different route and use the extra time to sign up for an extra online class, start early on college applications, start a blog, find a way to help those in need in a time like this or start a new hobby all while keeping up with their weekly assignments they receive on google classroom. Certain students will choose the middle passage and find a balance between the binging and the books.  

Online learning is a system that provides education at home as well as clarity. This is your chance to take your education into your own hands and display your sense of self-motivation. This is your chance to demonstrate your independence! Which student are you?

Like all situations, online learning comes with its benefits and comes with its disadvantages. Unfortunately, in our society not everyone has access to luxuries like internet access and the devices that use them. To participate in online learning this is necessary and with public libraries shut down along with schools, the chance that the students lacking in both regions can complete online assignments is next to none.

To combat this issue, public school districts like my own have begun to loan out school laptops to students in the free and reduced lunch program along with setting them up with free internet access in order for them to continue to learn at home. 

Another common contradiction to online learning is the lack of diverse teaching strategies compared to what is possible in the classroom. And while online learning has a large negative impact on students who prefer active learning, this is to determine who is determined enough to still succeed. Furthermore, there are many diverse learning styles that teachers can use on students virtually. Programs like Zoom allow for breakout groups, sharing a presentation, along with every student’s ability to give speeches or even participate in debates. The opportunities are endless and some teachers are more resourceful than you think. 

While the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak left lots of school districts like JCPS unprepared, it has also allowed them to solidify their online learning structure as well as learn of the benefits that come with choosing this route. Students that work better in a different environment have had the opportunity to show off their skill. Students that work better at seven in the evening have the opportunity to start their school work this late in the day without missing the recommended eight hours of sleep. Students and teachers get the opportunity to see how creative they are both in and out of the classroom. Many students have been waiting years for an adjusted schedule or school start time, and while it is not in the form you probably expected, here it lies before you. 

Online learning may come with its drawbacks, but it is through these drawbacks that create opportunities for growth. It is in these circumstances that despite setbacks and unforeseen tragedy, allows for advantages in the form of experience and unforeseeable knowledge.