Online School vs. In-Person Learning

Carly Woodfield, Staff Writer

Online school has always been a choice for students who learn better that way, or for other personal reasons online is the better path all depending on the circumstance. Since spring of 2020 when COVID-19 brought a cloud of uncertainty over the world, schools made the transition to all online classes. High school students, middle schoolers, and elementary schoolers have had to adapt to this new way of learning. Many problems have arisen with the transition, but how is this really affecting children and what are their feelings towards this major shift in their lives? 

By talking to students and teachers, it is clear that there are strong opinions about the new learning system. A majority of students prefer to learn in-person, said following students Ava Woodfield SRHS freshman, sophomore Ava Krienke IHS, junior Collin Alexander , and Liberty senior Hannah Jacobson . American sign language Paige Freidli and history teacher Mary Ann Viller prefer in-person as well. Although this study is small it still shows that students and teachers are unhappy with the current school situation. 

Problems have been arising rapidly since the start of online classes. A problem many have faced is the amount of screen time.  Staring at a computer or tablet screen all day cannot be good for our eyes, so how has learning at home on a screen all day affect students and staff personally?  Jacobson says,  “It has affected me with migraines and sore eyes. Within just 20 minutes into online school I started getting pain. Two day long migraines after just a short time of school.” Jacobson is not the only one feeling discomfort from the excessive screen time. Alexander also showed symptoms from too much screen time, saying “I’ve definitely had multiple headaches, my eyes hurt and I’m tired all the time.” Other students have expressed discomfort and effects ranging from severe migraines to nothing at all. 

One of the most important things in school is the understanding and growth of students. Has it been easier to learn online or is the regular in-person learning better for grasping concepts in school?  Several students and teachers agreed that students learn more effectively in person. 

  In addition to online learning being more difficult to learn, many will need extra help. If and when students are having trouble learning online, it is essential for questions and extra help, but how many are willing to ask these questions and get the help needed? Kreinke said that, “I’m not likely to ask questions. I feel like emailing for one simple question is unnecessary so I end up not asking my question.” In the long run, students not asking questions can hurt the learning process and have negative effects on their comprehension of assignments and lessons. Alexander also expressed thoughts on asking for help online, saying, “I ask way less questions now because it’s more difficult because sometimes I’m not able to go to office hours. It can be hard to ask questions during class because you can’t show the teachers your work.” With this information in mind, what are students doing to get the help they need and questions answered? 

 This leads to the next problem with online school. Without teachers being able to monitor what their students are doing at home during tests and quizzes, the easy access to many resources via the internet is making cheating easier than ever. Several students have admitted to using online resources to their advantage and cheating. Friedli and Villar also agreed that they believe students are much more likely to cheat with online learning. With this information, it makes sense why students have not had the motivation to ask questions. With the answers being at the fingertips of students, cheating has become students’ way of getting the answers without learning. 

Learning in an at home setting has not only had an effect on students in the learning aspect, but most importantly, socially. Students report that they are most affected socially with the switch to online learning. . Ava Woodfield says, “It is socially and mentally hard being at home all day. I get bored laying in bed all day and not seeing friends.” The sad truth about online school is the social aspect being removed can be very hard to adjust to. Meanwhile, Kreinke says, “Switching to online actually has helped in some ways because school makes me a little anxious. But [it] hurts socially because of lost connection with school friends.” 

Students are definitely missing out on social interaction. According to Medium’s Rakshita Kota, “Face-to-face interaction that online schools fail to provide has a multitude of benefits such as stronger relationship engagement and innovation.” Her article conveys how online school dismantles socialization and how it is failing to teach and improve students’ social skills.  

Furthermore, there are many things that contribute to learning that online school is lacking in certain areas. For instance, Kota says, “It is more likely that a student in a traditional classroom setting will feel more comfortable with their peers and their instructor than an online classroom, which leads to a better learning experience.” The article communicates that traditional classroom school has its perks and being comfortable with peers and teachers cannot be replicated through online learning. 

Overall, which is the better choice for students, online or in person? Evidence pushes that online school has worse effects for students in the long-run. For example, According to Journalists’ Resource, “‘The report also shows that on average 50.1% of virtual high school students graduate within four years, compared with 84% of high school students nationally.’”  With that evidence put into perspective, in-person school seems to be the better choice. 

Studies examining students are affected from online learning really shows a lot about what students are facing right now with being forced to continue school online versus in-person, Journalist’s Resource says,  “‘A growing number of studies show a negative impact on student achievement when K-12 students move to online formats compared to their usual in-school experience,’” Many negative effects have been brought into perspective through studies and data on the topic of online vs. in person.  Can you give any specific negative effects? This is all very general…

In closing, a number of interviews, studies, and evidence altogether conclude how students are being affected all in different ways due to the dramatic switch to  online learning. A number of problems have also been raised to the minds of teachers and students trying to adapt to this new way of learning. Students and teachers have been shown to prefer learning in-person. Therefore, steps need to be taken to help students either adapt to online learning or go back in-person for students to get the best education possible.