A person working at their desk at night.
Photo by Daniel Chekalov on Unsplash

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all had to reflect upon how we’ve been learning in the past and how we might learn in the future. I was skeptical at first when I found out our school was going with a remote learning model. Sure it was the safest way to continue learning while under strict social distancing measures, but I wasn’t convinced that it could meet all the needs of students during this trying time. After I’ve been through around 3 months of remote learning, I feel that I have been able to collect my thoughts and experiences with this learning model. Here is my experience with remote learning.

The concept of remote learning itself is quite promising. The idea of being able to learn while not leaving the house was sure to excite many students, but I know that it also made others incredibly worried. Many students rely on one-and-one support to ensure they do their best in school but with remote learning, it posed a challenge of a physical barrier. Personally, I actually like the remote learning model. In fact, I’d go as far to say that I like it better than normal schooling. The way I learn and process information is individual and very rarely needs a classroom environment to flourish. It was easy for me to grasp the concepts that my teachers presented to me and I was able to do a majority of issued work in a timely manner. However, I do have some gripes with it. I dislike the detached environment that is inherent in remote learning. In usual classroom instruction, you are made to feel heard and the environment is very warm and is buzzing with energy. During online learning, the whole experience feels very cold and detached. You don’t have as many opportunities to reach out for help and some nuances can get lost in text. Additionally, there are several technical barriers within remote learning. Wifi can be spotty, video quality can be terrible and voices can barely be heard. Not everyone I know has benefitted or has had a positive experience with remote learning either. Many I’ve spoken to have said that remote learning takes away the social aspect of school and has made many of them feel isolated and alone. Homework is sparsely monitored and reminders can fly by in the sea of messages sent in class chats and notifications. While my experience may have been positive, it is important to take into account what remote learning has done to the mental health of others as well.

One of the benefits of remote learning is the technology involved. With our phones, laptops and computers, we can accomplish a lot. I feel that technology has allowed me to do more with what I have learned and that having easier access to it has benefitted my learning as a whole. I can do research, write papers and complete projects much faster now that my technology is just an arms reach away. Despite that, technology has also impeded upon my learning. Since I have had most of my electronics in short proximity of myself, the temptation to get distracted is increased tenfold. This has made it much harder to focus in class and has made me and many others miss key information that is spread through class discussions. Alongside that, many students do not have access to the technology that is necessary to complete remote learning. Although the province has given as much as they can to those in need, the steps taken do not account for the problems that cannot be solved by technology such as mental health issues, educational support aids and financial distress.

I feel that the transition to remote learning was tough on a lot of people. The stark contrast between a classroom environment and an online space led many to have troubles during the online learning process. For me, the transition wasn’t hard at all. I think that my critical and creative thinking core competencies definitely helped me troubleshoot any issues I had with technology and it has made my experience much more tolerable. One day my router completely shut down and I had to look at the manual and get it back working again on my own. It was challenging, but I learned some things from that which I wouldn’t have learned in a traditional school setting. I feel that I have improved upon my personal awareness and social responsibility skills due to this experience. During remote learning I had to be much more responsible with assignments and attending classes and I also had to make sure my fellow peers were getting the help they needed. I reminded some of my friends when assignments were due and we often proofread each others’ papers to make sure we all got the best marks possible. It added a bit of a social experience to a usually isolating one.

In closing, this year is not what I had thought my first year of high school would be like. It’s almost comical to imagine past me thinking my grade 9 year would be “normal”. Although I’ve had many positive experiences with remote learning, I feel that there are many improvements to be made in order to make it better for all students. Classroom instruction is still the most beneficial model of education for the vast majority of students and it accounts for many of the needs that pupils may have. I’m sure most of us will pleased when school eventually returns (although with many safety measures attached). With what I’ve learned this year and with what I know now, I can only hope that next year will be a more safer, positive and engaging time for all and that I will continue to grow in my educational and personal aspirations.