Is Distance Learning Just One Big Struggle for Students and Teachers?

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Photo by Emma Velchek

A typical school setting nowadays looks a bit different, it might be a table or a desk in one’s house. A recent board meeting discussed that students will not be returning to school until January.

Emma Velchek, Staff Reporter

The 2020-2021 school year has been online for just over three months now, and students have been counting down the days until they can return to school. 

Hopes were high for many students, teachers, and parents to go back after Thanksgiving break. But, a recent board meeting that was held on Oct. 28, established students could look forward to returning in January 2021.

Numbers of reported Covid-19 cases in San Diego have increased tremendously. Over 600 cases were reported for the third day in a row leaving the county to enter the purple tier. (Photo Taken From sandiegocounty.gov)

Some students and teachers have slowly adjusted to the strange new way of learning, consisting of Google Meets and Zoom. However, others have found distance learning to be tough.  

“I think the hardest part about distance learning is staying motivated,” Haley Penfield said. “It’s really easy to get distracted especially since we aren’t in a structured classroom.” 

Motivation could be considered to be the key to distance learning. Students are typically motivated when they are engaged. Due to the less personal nature of online environments, more students can find themselves multitasking or hopping on the battle bus as they listen to what is being taught. 

Recently many teachers have found most students in their classes prefer to keep their cameras turned off. This has caused many interactions between teachers and students to become even more impersonal, which leads to even less engagement. 

Don Pham, chemistry teacher had a few comments to share about the student/teacher interaction.

“Sometimes you take for granted a lot of the small talk and conversations with teachers and students,” said Don Pham. 

With the tendency to turn off the camera, what are students really doing behind the scenes?

“I can get easily distracted,” Ethan Westfall said. “I go on my phone and I want to talk to my friends instead of doing the work.”

According to The Mercury News, in the Bay Area, there has been almost a 20% increase in students who have failing grades in the fall of 2020. In Carlsbad Unified School District there has been an 8.7% increase of students receiving a D or an F. 

Slide 58 on the Slidedeck provided by CUSD from the Oct. 28 board meeting illustrates a grade comparison since 2018. In the 2020-2021 school year there has been an 8.7% increase of students who have failing grades. (Photo Taken from Oct. 28 Board Meeting Slidedeck)

“People can get careless since it’s an online school,” Westfall said. “They [students] may think that it doesn’t matter as much or it may be harder for them to learn.”

Most students and teachers could agree that with distance learning comes its pros and cons. Some of the Pros mentioned include more flexibility, while cons include distractions and weaker connections between staff and students.

“We miss them. We want them all to come back. And we hope we can come back safely and soon,” Pham said.