ALP: Lessons from a Student who’s in it for the Long Haul

Gabrielle Anderson

   As one of roughly fifty students that has chosen to remain online throughout the year, I have experienced the many pitfalls and zeniths of learning through a screen. I have come to understand that this experience has been a bit of give and take, but how it affects learning is up to the student.

   Despite the fact that I am usually fairly outgoing, the lack of social interaction apart from my family has not been all that bad. Though I do miss interacting with other kids my age, and being able to do things such as gossip about the people that we like, or mindlessly joke around and do things that we’ll regret later, some distance is actually kind of nice.

   Though I do not mind the lack of interaction with my peers on a purely social level, in-class discussions and collaboration on classwork is something that is severely affected by distance learning. Though many teachers have done their best to include online kids in the everyday classroom, there are still many instances where I feel that I am intruding rather than contributing or that it is best that I keep quiet. For instance, a Socratic Circle feels more like an important discussion going on in the outside world, where you constantly feel that to interject would be to interrupt.

   Another thing that I have learned through the experience is that having all of the resources that you need at your fingertips doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have increased productivity. Without the supervision of adults that would have been given if I were physically attending school, school is a constant battle between the responsibilities that one carries as a student and the temptation that comes with having tools such as your cell phone and the internet in reach with no one there to stop you. 

   I felt that very acutely a few months ago when I was assigned a biology project. Despite having all of the time in the world to complete my presentation and get it out of the way so that I could enjoy my break guilt-free, I chose to surf the internet for hours upon hours, with the full knowledge that it would come back to haunt me. The night before the project I was stressed and so far behind that I stayed awake all night completing it. And to think, all of that could have been avoided if I had managed my time better.

    Learning online has been a unique experience. I have made many revelations about myself and my working habits, both good and bad. But, it is more apparent now than ever that my learning is ultimately up to me.