Distance takes a toll on learning as a whole


Hannah Hollosi and Anusha Iyer

The global pandemic has forced 1.2 billion students out of their classrooms and into their homes. Around March of 2020, most schools around the world were shut down due to stay-at-home orders from the uprising of COVID-19. How are other countries and states adapting to distance learning? 

For the most part, different parts of the world have taken on distance learning with new perspectives. Teachers and students alike have to adjust to this unfamiliar situation. Westfield District English Language Arts supervisor Dr. Tiffany Jacobson stated, “The current circumstances have demanded a radical shift in the way teachers present subject matter and subject-specific skills. Individuals, regardless of their professions, approach radical shifts in different ways – some are excited by the prospect of reimagining their craft, while others may feel reticent.”

As Dr. Jacobson mentioned, many individuals like teachers have to reimagine their profession to fit the current circumstances. Teachers have to adapt to the new style of learning and take into consideration other factors as well. Middle school teacher Ms. Michele Alber from Arizona explained why she gives a light workload to her students. “I’ve given less work because distance learning can be difficult. Often, there are children in one family who need to use the same device to complete assignments. Giving less work also helps relieve some pressure on students as they navigate this hard time,” Ms. Alber elaborated. 

On the other hand, some teachers including high school Hungarian literature teacher Zsuzsanna Horváth, believe in giving roughly the same amount of work as they expect in the classroom. Ms. Horváth stated, “The location of the student doesn’t hinder their ability to learn.”

Furthermore, students have varied opinions and views on distance learning. Even from different parts of the world, many students mentioned missing the feeling of an in-person learning establishment. Akaash Krishnan, a twelfth grader attending Davidson Academy in Nevada mentioned without a physical school location, it’s “hard to stay motivated,” and that he can “feel [himself] slacking at times.”

Additionally, students like Vibha Vishweshwaran from India expressed similar ideas about the difficulties of staying motivated. Others, like Julia Hollosi, a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, miss being with peers. “Online learning has been so different from in-person attendance. You don’t get to interact with your friends, classmates, or teachers, which makes asking questions hard,” Julia mentioned. 

To add on, students like Kristina Hollosi, a student at Ramapo College of New Jersey, agree with Julia. “It’s pretty hard to learn some of the material without class discussions, group projects, and activities. I miss in-person school. It was more interactive and fun!” she exclaimed. 

Additionally, online platforms currently play a role in distance learning with many school districts. Schools and universities use different online platforms to connect with their students about their work. Some popular platforms include Zoom, Google Meet, and Google Classroom. Kristina commented, “The two platforms my professors have been using for online learning are Zoom and Moodle. Moodle is not a video live-streaming platform, but it is used by the professor to attach links, lessons, lectures, assignments and quizzes, and this is where students submit all of their work.”

Online learning might seem like a new, unfamiliar experience for people all over the world, but what about those who don’t have access to a device or internet? 1.2 billion children from 186 countries have been affected by this global pandemic. From those kids, 7 million of them, which is around 14% of children, do not have internet access in their homes. This is a problem when it comes to distance learning, as it makes connecting with professors and teachers almost impossible. Some districts have the parents pick up work for their children and return the previous week’s workbook to a designated location. Other districts are trying to buy enough ipads or Chromebooks to distribute to the kids who don’t have technology at home. Some kids have to put a halt on their education all together until their district can figure out a way for the children to learn in the safest possible environment without having technology.

Overall, the global pandemic has caused distance learning to become the new normal for students everywhere. Distance learning has different effects on students around the globe; some look at a computer screen, while others look at workbooks. Some, however, stare into the future and wonder when their normal education will return.