The Pros and Cons of Online Learning

by Allison Lam

This year Methuen High School began its academic year fully online. Students in all grades had different perspectives on this type of learning. Is it easier to learn online or in person? Is it easier to teach for either?

Certainly the situation all students and staff are in can have its ups and downs, advantages and disadvantages, but what can all of us do to make this experience much more use of our time and our education.

Each student and staff member’s situation is different. The world has rarely been impacted by this large of a virus, one that had to close schools and forced people to stay at home, so the certain circumstances that people are stuck in aren’t something society is used to. Students don’t typically learn their courses at home, and teachers don’t usually teach through a computer screen. So what’s the real problem? What are the things people are struggling with? But also, what is good this new dynamic?

There are many pros and cons of online learning. Senior, Lizzy Staugler, part of MHS’ volleyball team, gives me her thoughts on the subject. “We are able to sleep in a little later, making us more awake for our classes. We don’t have to worry about missing a bus or missing class due to being sick.” More sleep helps students concentrate more on their studies and overall could make them happier, and now there are more opportunities to attend class easier and more efficiently.

As for the cons, Staugler said, “There is a lot less interaction with peers. Group assignments are harder to accomplish.” It’s obvious that with the lack of interaction with fellow students, and teachers, online learning could pose to be rather difficult. Many assignments can require people to work together, which is harder now that everyone is stuck at home.

What about teaching? Certainly it must be a hassle having to teach kids from a computer screen. Photography teacher, Ms. Varasconi, understands the struggle that “it doesn’t feel authentic”, but uses the best of her ability to make learning more engaging for students, even if we’re all staring at teachers through a screen.

“I tried so hard to figure out a way to get a camera in kids’ hands.” She relayed to me her journey of trying to find different ways to teach photography without actually giving kids a camera. There’s so many things teachers won’t be able to do since kids aren’t always in classrooms. “Having to teach online, I have shifted my focus to teaching kids the fundamentals of how to build and craft an image. In some ways it’s been an interesting thing to shift my practice and shift my curriculum in that direction. I think moving forward when it is safe and relatively normal again, I think we can do a hybrid of the two.”

Online learning has proven that it could bring new ideas to curricula some teachers have never thought of. For example, Ms. Varasconi plans to incorporate the fundamentals of photography into the curriculum that was placed before when it is safer to go to school.

Online learning has posed as an advantage and disadvantage to many students and staff, and it’s obvious that everyone would rather school back to normal, but in times of a pandemic, staying home for the time being is the best option. For now, it’s best to try and take advantage of whatever online learning makes available to all students and staff.

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