Dangers of online learning

Dangers of online learning

Laura Doughton, Editor-in-Chief

When Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools announced their plan for remote learning for the first nine weeks of school, the thought on everyone’s mind was ‘how will this impact students?’ Remote learning for high schoolers involves being active on Zoom for numerous hours a day and completing work between Zoom calls. 

Despite efforts from teachers to help emulate a typical classroom setting, the opportunity for social interaction between classmates is limited. Remote learning is lacking everyday interactions with friends including passing in the hall, discussing homework before class or eating lunch together. 

In an effort to simulate these social interactions, a common trend is for students to get together to do school. While this does help to prevent the lack of social interaction, it does not provide the advantages that students believe.  The result of students holding group gatherings for school directly violates the purpose of online school. 

Amidst a global pandemic, the top priority should be doing your part to help curb the spread, and attending gatherings does not contribute to this goal. In addition to this, group gatherings do not foster a productive school environment, which only harms students. The cons vastly outweigh the pros and students should not be continuing the trend of group gatherings.

When students gather to attend online school together, the result is a multitude of distractions. They distract each other, their Zoom classes and their teachers. 

Biology teacher Kimberly Briggs has experienced students who attend class in groups.

I have noticed that my virtual students in groups tend to be distracted due to their fellow in person students,” Briggs said. 

When students are attending different Zoom classes yet are in the same room, there can be conflicting audios. Students who get distracted by conversations in the room are no longer paying attention to their class and may distract others in their class. 

A major struggle of remote learning for teachers is trying to keep students engaged and active in class. Having the distraction of friends in other classes does nothing to help teachers feel confident in the attention of their students. 

Students can still have social interaction in other ways. Facetime friends during lunch, meet up in a safe and socially distanced way after school to work on homework. Have group picnics on Flex Fridays where you can talk about your week. But class time should remain class time. 

Another issue that is posed by students who gather in groups is the health concern. The purpose of online school is to limit face to face contact between people amidst a global pandemic. 

Students who do not follow the guidelines of online school and choose to gather with friends are putting themselves and others at risk. This creates concern among those who are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

“It concerns me that these small groups of students would have one student test positive and then the rest would soon follow,” Briggs said. 

If students gather in groups and continue to come into contact with others, it would be difficult to track the spread should one of them have COVID-19. While the school has no way to monitor or enforce restrictions of online school, there are preventative measures that can be taken.

“I think students that work together should be tested prior to gathering and continue to only come in contact with others who tested negative to the virus,” Briggs said.     

The bottom line is that students who gather in groups are putting their education and their health at risk. In order to learn more effectively, they attend school on their own and find social time outside of Zoom classes.