PART TWO of SIX: STUDENT COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS
STUDENTS SPEAK OUT ABOUT VIRTUAL EDUCATION
As we wrote in PART ONE:
“During the winter and spring of school year 2020-21, , International Virtual Learning Academy (IVLA https://internationalvla.com/ ) a division of Global Student Network (GSN) (www.globalstudentnetwork.com) conducted a scholarship competition directed at high school students currently attending school 100% online. Students were asked to write an essay in answer to the question “What was the most significant takeaway you believe students learned about online education during the coronavirus pandemic?” Over 700 high schoolers responded. Their thoughts and feelings sometimes fell into predictable categories and at other times were surprisingly introspective and focused.”
In PART ONE, ten important lessons learned about online school were listed. PART TWO is focused on Student Comments and Observations that apply to five of these ten lessons. PART THREE will focus on the final five lessons learned from essay contest students.
(NOTE: This is a sampling of hundreds of comments received. All comments and Observations were drawn directly from responses to the essay question listed in paragraph one, above. Based on student privacy requirements, quotations and comments are listed anonymously.)
FIVE LESSONS LEARNED – IN THEIR OWN WORDS
1. The “hybrid model” – mixing in-class and at-home learning – is here to stay.
“The past year has been important for the overall advancement of [online] education and how we should go about it in the future that is ahead. Technology is a tool to our physical worlds, [but] it is an asset in our lives rather than a new life. Balance is key.”
“I believe the takeaway would be that you can learn more [online] but it is just one way of learning. I myself did a lot better when I was online than I did in person because there were no distractions and I had better resources.”
“When we had to go back to school in person, I didn’t like it. But we still do everything online, just in the classroom.”
2. Many students admitted that online schooling was a hard thing to get used to and at times negatively affected their mental and physical health. Others were very positive about the experience.
“I made the best out of what I had and with what I could do. My optimistic nature found other ways to enjoy life and face the challenges head on. I missed social interactions, but I found myself having a lot of Zoom parties, get-togethers and at-home soirees.”
“I believe that even if it [i.e., online schooling] was generally successful, it still had a negative impact on me and other students around the world.”
“The personal, intimate and motivational aspect of physically being at school and being in an environment that is meant for you to grow as a person was stripped of meaning and [replaced] with restlessness, despair and struggle.”
“The most significant takeaway I believe students learned about online education was to keep an open-mind and have patience.”
3. Students have learned the value of weighing their actions to consider the connection between what they do and the well-being of others.
“I have learned that [at this time] compassion is needed at an all time high. Most people are willing to do things out of their comfort zone to ensure the safety of everyone.”
“It is important to know that not everything is about me and the choices I make can have an influential or negative impact on the next person.”
“We developed stronger connections with each other and were able to learn more about one another – things that we wouldn’t have been able to learn if the pandemic had never occurred.”
4. Many students acknowledged that their family connections matter more than they realized.
“I learned that I had an abundance of love and support from my closest friends and family. We had a blast during the pandemic, all while staying safe.”
“The final goal is for all of us to uplift each other in any and every way to be the best individual that we can be and then bless others with unconditional love and support.”
5. For many reasons, use of technology-driven learning is something that will not go away.
“For the learning disability I have, online learning helped me more than anything. If I had questions, I would email the teacher. If I had problems, I would ask my mother, who is also in college online. I loved learning online.”
“It may not be for everyone, but there’s no denying that virtual learning provides a valid education. As technology advances, more and more programs are developing that allow students to more easily connect with their facilitators and peers.”
“The Coronavirus pandemic has taught students to work both harder and smarter. In the long-run, these habits will be of great utility upon our return to in-person learning. We can and will continue to do well in an online educational environment if we utilize the resources we [now] have at hand.”
“Although virtual learning may pose its own unique challenges, the results are extremely rewarding. In-person education will forever be changed due to the new norm of online schooling because of the coronavirus. Although only some students may discover that they actually prefer virtual learning, all of us will emerge from the pandemic with a newfound sense of determination in our schoolwork.”
COMING NEXT IN PART THREE: STUDENT LESSONS ABOUT MOTIVATION AND TIME MANAGEMENT