Online Learning: How NSD students are feeling


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced our schools and our students to adapt to a new way of learning for better or for worse. The switch to online learning has been a difficult transition for many students. 67% of the 340 students surveyed by The Catamount state that they prefer in-person learning while 17% prefer online and 16% say they have no preference.
The majority of students report that it’s harder for them to grasp the material that they are taught online and that it feels like there is significantly less teacher support. It is often harder for students to stay on task while working at home. Phones, family members, and the lack of a suitable workspace can all cause difficulty for students. Furthermore, now more responsibility is on them to figure out assignments on their own.
For many students school is more than just a place to learn, it is also the primary place they interact with their friends and peers. The majority of students I talked to said that they missed interacting with other students in some capacity or another. The isolation has been hitting some students hard. One Bothell student commented, “I feel so isolated doing online learning like I’m not connected with my friends or the teacher”.
Other NSD students said that isolation combined with school stress was causing them to feel “burnt out” and that they felt “ more motivated… when surrounded by peers”. Likewise, a handful of students commented on a heavier workload during the pandemic, possibly due to teachers assuming they have more time since students can’t hang out with their friends and sports are canceled.

Students have also reported experiencing headaches and fatigue due to extended amounts of time spent on screens for school. This has led many students to begin wearing blue light filtering glasses to attempt to reduce eye strain.
Technology troubles have created problems for teachers and students alike and much of which is out of anyone’s control. As winter approaches, an increasing number of Northshore families are experiencing internet and power failure due to the heavy wind and rain that is typical of Pacific Northwest winters.
The Northshore School District’s shift to the learning system Schoology has also caused increased frustrations among the majority of the student body due to the large number of bugs it contains and widespread unfamiliarity with the system. However, Schoology does have some benefits: the system includes a variety of capabilities that offer teachers and students a lot of flexibility when it comes to which formats they want to use for assignments.
Similarly, there are parts of online learning that students find beneficial. A major advantage of the new schedule is that school starts at 8 AM rather than 7 AM which lets students sleep a bit later into the morning. “Online [school] is giving me more sleep and probably more time than I would [typically] have in 9th grade”, one student observed. Additionally, students don’t have to worry about the commute to and from school and extracurriculars.Online learning also gives students a bit more flexibility with their schedules. The arrangement of classes and the ability to turn in all assignments online make it easier for students who prefer to work late at night or have after-school jobs. Longer passing periods and teachers who choose to hold shorter ZOOM classes allow students to have more free time during the school day. Students can also work at their own pace during asynchronous learning periods rather than having to get assignments done during short periods of class time.
Moreover, some students find working from their home environment reduces their stress levels and is more comfortable for them. One student remarked that their mental health “improved compared to when I was in school”.
Generally speaking, while some students like online learning, the greater part students would definitely prefer in-person school. That being said, a global pandemic is obviously not an ideal situation and the biggest, most important benefit of online learning is that it keeps our students and our communities safe.

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