Distance learning proves to have its flaws

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Recently, for the better part of a year, we, as students and educators have all been restricted to our homes in order to attend school. The issue lies within the very thing that separates us, the pandemic. As students, we may not entirely get how teachers feel about this situation. And this is the same way with teachers. 

COVID-19 has led to effects on both students and teachers, some positive and some negative, and success through adaptation has become the goal for many. Students, as well as teachers, have had to keep up with the quick, difficult, and sudden distance learning transition. Additionally, studies find that students learn only a fraction of what they do in distance learning than what they learn in class, on top of social lives being at risk

A study conducted at UMD shows teachers are being impacted by the pandemic. About 32% of teachers said they felt moderately afraid and distressed about the situation, while another 33% percent of teachers shared feelings of determination and enthusiasm. One thing that can be said for sure is that participation and the overall interaction with students is not the same at all in many cases for teachers. At times teachers may feel that they are simply talking to a blank screen with initials on it.

Another study conducted at Brown University about students suggests that the “coronavirus will undo months of academic gains, leaving many students behind. The study authors project that students will start the new school year with an average of 66 percent of the learning gains in reading and 44 percent of the learning gains in math, relative to the gains for a typical school year”.

School officials are aware of this and have provided accommodations to help with situations, including providing technology for students, and allowing a “no penalty for late work” rule. However, some still believe it is not enough to make up for all the work being assigned. And as for mental health, in a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, it is stated that “The Covid-19 pandemic may worsen existing mental health problems and lead to more cases among children and adolescents because of the unique combination of the public health crisis, social isolation, and economic recession.” 

Despite all this, many people still believe it is not safe enough for schools to return in session, so the real question is, what is the best solution? What is the best solution that will both keep everyone safe and make sure students are learning and their usual ideal level? 

Well, for now, officials in charge of these decisions must consider optimal safety and shouldn’t rush the re-implementation of full classrooms, but should definitely act as soon as case numbers begin to decline. Hopefully as a result of the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine. As for distance learning in its current state, it must definitely see some fixes, specifically when it comes to student engagement and how much “one on one” time students are given. These are factors that can significantly impact the students’ grade performance and more importantly their information intake.

Students should be mandated to meet 1 on 1 with their teachers at least once weekly to check up with work and to have any questions answered directly by the teacher. This way students are more engaged and the teachers get a better understanding of how well the individual understands the material being taught. This time could also be used for feedback from the students. Some examples can include asking the teacher should stop in between videos and presentations more often for note-taking, or asking to use a certain teaching website because it is more accommodating than another, e.t.c.

The goal is to make sure both the students and teacher are on the same track, and for the sake of both teacher and students, we must make the best out of this situation.