Has online school actually helped students?


Photo Courtesy of Wall Street Journal

Classes now meet online via Zoom twice a week for optional office hours.

Rohan Patel

As we enter the fourth week of online learning, the absence of school has slowly become the new norm. While an extended break was enjoyable for a short time, most students would prefer to be sitting in the classroom after such a long period of isolation. However, the most we can do at this point is meet for 30 minutes with teachers on Zoom, which unfortunately is not comparable to actually being in class with our peers. Still, this limited communication is a decent way to keep up to date with teachers, though many other aspects of online learning have shown faults that have created confusion for students.

One of the largest issues is the complication with grades, as students have heard varying accounts of the possible implications towards their grades. Most teachers stated that the work assigned during the first two weeks was not mandatory, but afterwards, assignments would have to be completed. However, with the exception of dual enrollment classes, grades cannot  go down from their current position for the rest of the semester, meaning all work is essentially extra credit. Because of this, there is no motivation for students to actually complete their work if they are content with their current grades, as they know their grades are protected. Although some students still may finish the work assigned, the reality is that many more will decide against doing schoolwork, simply because it has been deemed unnecessary. 

This situation entirely defeats the purpose of online learning. As schools shut down about two months before the normal end date, a fairly large amount of the curriculum was yet to be taught. Online learning was supposed to be the solution to this issue, as students theoretically would still be able to learn the content in order to be prepared for the next school year. But the current grade policy will have a domino effect as students who do not complete assignments this year will consequently fall behind at the start of the next school year if the current content remains unlearned. Additionally, in many AP classes, teachers have moved to solely assigning reviews for the AP tests, considering the exams have been considerably shortened to only test certain aspects of the course.

Another issue with the online learning system is the ineffectiveness of Zoom meetings. Currently, the meetings serve as a teacher’s office hours, meaning they are not required and simply used to check in with students. And while these meetings were at first refreshing due to the fact that they gave students the opportunity to see their teachers and peers, they have become sparsely attended as it is evident that nothing of importance actually occurs during these meetings. Schools should be taking full advantage of the opportunity to electronically communicate face-to-face with students by urging teachers to push out new content during their Zoom meetings. This would make online classes much more worthwhile for both teachers and students, while also making it easier for students to receive direct teaching instead of having to learn new content through indirect online instruction.