My thoughts on having to learn online since the COVID-19 lockdown in the United Kingdom.
As anyone in the UK will know, at the start of 2021, Boris Johnson announced that the whole country was to go into lockdown and therefore schools and colleges were made to do lessons online.
Everyone, as you can imagine, was sceptical about this because it isn’t the norm and lots of students, including myself were afraid that working at home is not as easy as it is in an educational environment and that there would be drops in grades and quality of teaching etc.
I do think that being face to face with a teacher, in a classroom provides a much better teaching and learning experience, allowing for more interactive lessons and social interaction between students, which in turn gives a more collaborative and therefore memorable experience, helping students to learn. However, I haven’t completely despised online learning as much as I originally thought I would; the main thing that I’ve missed is the social aspect, not seeing my friends every day feels a bit isolating. We had a solution to this though, which was to create a Discord server in order to communicate with eachother throughout the day and this has worked really well, it’s not face to face communication but it’s better than nothing. I’ve found that the sixth form that I go to has done its best to put students in the best possible position that they can be in despite the current circumstances, delivering mostly live lessons (not assignment based) and ensuring that lessons are as close to real life as possible in terms of content and that students are attending as they should. I don’t feel like I’ve lost too much content and knowledge by being at home.
As someone who likes technology though, I think I’ve put myself in quite a good position because of my interest in computers and IT based things. There are some students, through no fault of their own (they just simply aren’t interested in computers etc. enough) that will have possibly fallen behind because of a lack of equipment that has meant their online learning experience hasn’t been as good. In my classes, various students have had issues with mics not working, connectivity issues, etc, and schools can’t really do anything to support this, especially if the issue comes down to the simple lack of availability of a high speed internet connection, for example. For those interested, my setup has been my Mac connected to two 27″ 1440p monitors, which I find amazing for productivity, for speakers I’ve been using a BOSE SoundLink speaker and for my mic/webcam, I’ve been using an ADVENT webcam that I bought from Currys/PC World, which has a microphone built in. I find that these peripherals paired with MacOS work really well for me and I work best under this environment. For note taking, I have been using my iPad 8th gen (2020 model) with Apple Pencil, however this isn’t any different from what I use in school.
Basically, I think the biggest downside of online, distance learning is the lack of social interaction that you get, simply just because you are talking to a computer all day. However, I think that with the correct hardware and software, suitable working environment and an easy way to talk to friends when having downtime, that it can be quite enjoyable. That said, I can’t wait to get back into sixth form on Monday!