Back to School, But Online!

Luis Gonzales-Mugaburu, Lifestyle Editor

Back to school can always be a scary time for students and teachers, but this year it was very different. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to start school virtually. This has posed many benefits and drawbacks for students and teachers. 

Technology issues and wifi issues have become a big problem for many students and teachers, but now most people have gotten used to virtual school and have overcome these issues. Many teachers felt weird talking to students through a screen, but over time, students have become more comfortable with turning on their cameras. This has helped everyone feel more comfortable and normal. 

Online learning has also brought along many benefits. Teachers can now assign work and “pass out papers” with the click of a button. They can also save paper and supplies by doing everything online. Not only does this prevent the spread of the virus, but it also helps save paper. When asked about the benefits and drawbacks about online learning, Mr. Gaba responded by saying, “One of the biggest differences between online vs. in-person teaching, in my opinion, is the amount of work needed to be done in advance of the class. There’s so much more prep work needed. In part it’s because it’s relearning the profession. In part it’s because there are so many more moving parts when it comes to online – from whether the technology is working, to trying to teach ideas and concepts to students whom in some cases I have never met personally. With debate, for example, it’s even more involved, because unlike many other core classes, where students at least have a basic knowledge of the course – math, science, etc. – in debate it’s entirely new concepts that are more difficult to grasp when it’s taught virtually. Luckily I have a strong, deep varsity program who have stepped up to the plate to help through virtual breakout rooms.”Everything is more accessible now that virtual learning has been introduced. 

Some teachers are really enjoying this new experience and feel that online learning has presented new possibilities that they never thought possible. Mr. Gaba feels that adapting to online learning has helped him as a teacher. He says, “ In some ways, it’s made me a better teacher. I need to be more tech-savvy, and I need to have backup plans ready in a heartbeat in case of Internet issues. One of the biggest criticisms of educators is that we get too complacent, we rely on faded yellow legal pads with lecture notes from before our students were born; but with the switch to online, we can’t rely on aged, tired routines. We need to up our game and be more in touch with the virtual world around us. There have been major adjustments, some more difficult than others, but I think in general it has made me more aware of the issues today’s students face regularly, and that’s a good thing.” Online learning has helped teachers expand their resources and get more comfortable with technology.