Illustration by Nora Talbott
This year’s learning environment has been completely different than previous years. The virtual learning restrictions posed many challenges to creating an environment that allows students to actually learn. While there are some unavoidable flaws, the learning system made the best out of a terrible situation.
WJ has implemented many programs to optimize virtual learning’s effectiveness, such as Wildcat Wellness, daily check-ins and asynchronous learning. These programs give students breaks to prevent Zoom fatigue and allow for more one-on-one help. While the intentions behind the Wildcat Wellness period are good, eliminating this period all together would be more effective at reducing Zoom fatigue.The teachers have been equipped with tools such as breakout rooms and Nearpod to help simulate an in-person environment. The systems set in place have done a good job maximizing the success of virtual learning.
Virtual learning is not to blame for student’s lack of education this year. The biggest challenge of online school is not that people are not in school, it is students do not learn for themselves. Online learning provides all the tools necessary to succeed; however, students are not utilizing these opportunities because they do not have the desire to learn. Online universities are just as effective as in person schooling, so high school students should be able to learn in this virtual environment.
Students no longer want to learn, they want to achieve a good grade. Since many educational policies have been relaxed due to distance learning, students can obtain a good grade with ease. If a student’s goal is to receive a good grade, why would they apply more effort for the same result?
A lot of the problems people have with virtual learning stem from students not wanting to learn. For example, the camera issue could be resolved by keeping students engaged. Schools cannot force students to turn on their cameras; however, if they engaged students, maybe students would be more enticed to turn their camera on.
The classes that I have retained the most information with were not the most challenging AP classes, they were the classes that I took because I was interested in it. Too often, students fall into the habit of learning a topic for the test and forgetting it a week later. Classes should emphasize learning a subject, instead of receiving the highest grade.
This year could have tremendous academic value; however, it was only what you made of it. If you embraced the change, adapted and made the best of the situation, it could have been filled with a great learning experience. On the other hand, if you only worked hard enough to get a semester A, then you will have nothing to show for this year.