Has digital learning affected the classroom for better, or for worse?

Ansley Emerson, Staff Reporter

Many concerns involving the drastic change from face to face learning to learning through a computer screen boil down to one question: is a student able to learn as effectively as they would in a classroom?

“It’s been nice to have more time to work on assignments,” said junior Sarah Gilvin. “I think it does set us back as we aren’t able to go over information the same, but overall it’s been a good experience.” She added that online learning gives students an “idea about what it’s going to be like in college as it does require more self-awareness.”

“The good parts of digital learning have been being able to work at my own pace and having more time to ourselves once school is over,” said sophomore Isabella Keuller.

Even though most of the experience has been good, there have been some ups and downs.

“It has been hard to not learn face to face,” Keuller commented. “It’s much easier to get distracted. I miss being at school and seeing everyone on a daily basis.”

Meanwhile seniors Anna Baker and Maddy Rhoades commented on wifi and power issues.

“Sometimes my wifi has been acting up with everyone doing so much on it at once,” Rhoades said.

Koch also highlighted on the struggles with digital learning by also saying, “ I mean it’s just not the same as a face to face classroom because there’s that screen there that’s a barrier between the teachers and the students and you know God created us to live in community and you can tell that a lot of us are really struggling.”

Baker commented, “A couple of days ago I lost power and so I was afraid I was going to miss a test because of it.”

Many technological issues have seemed to be relatively minor with complaints of wifi issues or the platforms freezing up and lagging sometimes.

Students had great things to say about how teachers have been very helpful and understanding during this time “they have made it clear that this is new for everyone and we’re getting through this together,” Keuller said.

Sophomore Matthew Dworkin said, “To the best of their ability, they have been trying to help.”

Academic Dean Meagan Koch also noted the strengths and weaknesses, with the weaknesses being that the technology can be unreliable “you know sometimes you have a great thing planned and then somebody’s mic doesn’t work or the internet goes out or somebody’s camera is not working and it’s just different.”

For the most part learning has been the same; however, some classes can be harder. Rhoades commented that math can be harder because it can be “difficult to grasp when you’re not in the classroom setting.”

Junior Cole Rogers also commented that it can be “more difficult to interpret information and stay focused.”

Keuller also mentioned that it has been harder for her because of the “increase in distractions, time management, and procrastination.”

Koch also highlighted some of her own personal experiences with digital learning as well as some of the challenges she has experienced.

Koch has one child in second grade, another one in sixth grade, and she works in the upper school which gives her a special insight to how digital learning is affecting all three divisions.

“I feel like I am getting to see how digital learning is affecting [everyone] and I have to say that I am blown away at what the teachers have been able to do with very, very little training.”

She commented on how even though her son is in second grade, he is still learning through the morning and some afternoons by doing assignments on his iPad.

“He’s having meetings with his teachers, and because his second grade teachers are holding him accountable, he’s not just running around bored because he’s in school and the teachers have done a really great job trying to make it as normal as possible.”

Some struggles the teachers are experiencing is that they don’t have access to many of the materials that they usually would in their classrooms. She also commented on how teaching AP Lang can be difficult because it’s a discussion based class and using Zoom can be difficult because “the discussion has been a little bit stilted because everyone’s muted and you don’t want to unmute and talk over somebody.”

Like many others, finding a routine has been difficult and one of the benefits she pointed out is that digital learning has given everyone a sense of normalcy in this difficult time.

“This is definitely not a platform for everybody.” she said in reference to the struggles students have been having, “We have had kids express some trouble and we have had teachers who have expressed some trouble. This just isn’t for everyone—that’s why we go to school. So yeah it has been a struggle for some people and in those couple of cases we have been trying to be very sensitive and very supportive to make sure everyone feels embraced, supported, and loved through all of this.”