Considering the positives of distance learning

Lessons to take away and implement in in-person learning

With the recent announcement that hybrid in-person instruction is beginning on April 19, the era of distance learning seems to be coming to a gradual end. Distance learning had its drawbacks, but just like most things, there were some positives as well. Moving forward, we can use what we have learned from a year of distance learning to improve in-person learning for the future — for example, many teachers are now using various software platforms to improve their classes. 

With the pandemic’s negative impact on mental health, more teachers have utilized Google Forms to check in on students. These check-ins offer students a way to privately express concerns, ask questions and let the teacher know how they are really doing. Even after the pandemic and during in-person school, the bustling of students getting to their seats and chatter from classmates would make it hard to foster meaningful mental health check-ins. Google Forms would allocate the space and means for teachers to allow students the chance to give feedback anonymously or express their personal concerns.

Additionally, technology can give instant results, which makes it especially effective for polling and multiple-choice quizzes. Rather than waiting to receive test results, multiple-choice quizzes can be taken online and graded immediately. Knowing the results of a quiz on the same day can reduce anxiety and stress on students and provide instant feedback. 

Similarly, many teachers assign homework and classwork on EdPuzzle, an interactive video lesson platform. EdPuzzle saves time for grading, and students can reinforce certain concepts if they answer the questions correctly. Video assignments and lectures on EdPuzzle can be given as classwork or extra material during in-person learning. With EdPuzzle students can learn at their own pace while teachers can ensure they are on task.

Graphic by Krish Dev

Peardeck is a lecture presentation website that allows students to respond to prompts before continuing the presentation. This would make lectures more interactive, causing more students to actively listen to lectures.

With Zoom, club meetings can take place online. This can increase the flexibility of timing, which could lighten the daily load on students. Instead of taking place during lunch or directly after school, club Zoom meetings can take place on weekends so that members have more time during school days. While this would not be suitable for all clubs, Zoom is an excellent option for some and if there are scheduling conflicts.

Technology aside, another significant benefit of distance learning is the lack of commute for both teachers and students, since many commuters take considerable time going to and from school. With less commute, students have more time in the morning to get ready for school and more time in the afternoon to do homework. If school days are occasionally online, less time can be spent commuting.

Graphic by Krish Dev

Another thing remote learning has brought is a different school schedule for MVHS. This schedule features a Wednesday with no classes for students other than a one-hour advisory period in the morning. This four-day school week with a midweek break allows for students to catch up if they are behind. Implementing some aspects of the remote learning schedule can improve the in-person schedule when we return back to campus.

Having online school days also allows a break from in-person school, which can often be taxing. Online days would be a break from the stress of in-person learning and would balance the benefits of both distance and in-person learning. Distance learning has shown that schools can be run effectively online and have increased technology skills for both teachers and students alike. These skills are vital in the 21st Century, and using online platforms and software can help people further develop these skills. More jobs are becoming remote, and distance learning has taught us how we can do work online collaboratively.

Not all facets of distance learning are amazing, but taking from the positives can hopefully improve school so that when we return to in-person learning, we can return to a new and better normal.