Ephrata Schools

Ephrata High School teacher Geraldine Bauer uses a laptop computer to talk to students learning remotely while teaching others in person during an honors algebra 2 class Tuesday, Sep. 8, 2020.

As schools learn to adapt to the new normal of online learning, students’ academic success and progression may be at risk.

According to a study conducted by Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, online learning may reduce student achievement by as much as one-third of a standard deviation.

Navigating through the uncertainties of COVID-19, many schools have offered online learning and have needed to limit in-school learning. Students quickly began to realize that online learning isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Although many people may agree that remote learning is a safe and convenient way for students to be taught, many students and teachers have reported internet accessibility problems and lack of success in certain curricula due to more independent instruction. Without the face-to-face teaching, there are more intense requirements for self-discipline among students.

Focus has become an even bigger challenge. Staring at a screen all day without teacher instructions, it is difficult for students to keep their attention span to sit through lectures.

In a New York Times opinion piece, Mark Edmundson, an English professor at the University of Virginia, wrote, “Online education is a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It tends to be a monologue and not a real dialogue.”

Some individuals find ease in the idea of learning in the comfort and safety of their home. Although being comfortable in a learning environment is important, all the tempting distractions in the home environment can be harmful to a student’s education: the constant craving to pick up that handheld device, open up another tab to work on something else, or maybe even fall back asleep.

Without the supportive supervision of teachers, students lose concentration on their tasks. To succeed in online classes, students have to overcome all of these difficult distractions, and it is unquestionably tougher than it would seem.

Online education requires a new level of work overall to prove that students have a good understanding of the materials. Without the classroom setting, it is harder for teachers to know if students are truly comprehending the curriculum. Many students are ill-equipped for the immense workload, and this leads to falling grades.

Access to the world’s most powerful technologies enables the option of virtual school. But with so much schooling taking place online, we have seen multiple internet lags and connection problems. The number of students missing meetings and lectures due to internet accessibility issues has risen massively since schools have had to shift teaching online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to USAFacts, “4.4 million households with students still lack consistent access to a computer and 3.7 million lack internet access.”

Online learning is a good temporary solution during the pandemic but should not replace the old-fashioned, face-to-face learning in the classrooms.

Olivia Myer is in grade 12 at Ephrata High School.

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