Getting organized with an online learning schedule is a must with virtual schooling. Students who don't plan how to spend their time will easily fall behind. (Image courtesy of Aiden Deming)
Don Antonio Lugo High School

Opinion: Virtual learning is here and I’m looking forward to online school

With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, I find myself a lot more optimistic about this pandemic than the media or my peers might believe me to be, mainly with the concept of online schooling.

As someone who spent the majority of their middle school years in an online private school, it is not as bad as some might be led to believe. I, for one, am looking forward to the flexibility, focus on organization, slower pace, and on a more personal note, more time with my family that only virtual learning can bring.

In seventh grade, the online classroom was enjoyable and amazing, especially when I would wake up at 10 a.m., get my homework done, watch whatever video presentation my teacher set up, and then proceeded to take the rest of the day off.

Don’t get me wrong, not all days were like that. I had days where I was up at 7 a.m. and wasn’t done until 11 p.m., but we’ve all had those kinds of nights even when we spent our days in a typical classroom.

Still, I don’t understand how no one else can look forward to online learning as much as I do.

In a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researchers and data analysts found that students reported a better ability to study for exams, increased engagement during lectures, and better retention.

I totally get that, because I’m slow with note taking, and I need to see slides and videos more than just once.

Learning online gives me the ability to stop, replay, take notes, play, stop, replay beyond a 50 minute class period.

Never once, did I feel like my teacher wasn’t available for questions, but what good are questions if you don’t understand the material the questions are driven from. So maybe it is the hands-on learning everyone appreciates, but for me, it is the convenience and flexibility that I enjoy.

There are a few negatives to online learning I should mention. The one that gives me virtual learning PTSD is learning math on a computer. It’s hard… really hard, but not impossible. As a sophomore who wants to enter the field of theoretical physics; math is an absolute requirement, so imagine my fear to return to a virtual learning math class.

Recently, I have finally learned to appreciate the concept of mathematics, but more importantly, the guidance and hands-on aspect I get from my dynamic duo teachers, Jackie Cortes and April Heisey.

Even as a younger student in elementary school, I remember how much I disliked math; that hasn’t changed much. But now, as I grow academically, I find myself more attached to it than ever, so not being in the classroom for math as we move closer and closer to quarantine, is my biggest concern.

My second concern, which should be yours too, is getting organized and having a plan. I was lucky enough to have my mom, who’s a teacher, help me with that plan. In fact, the plan we developed when I was in sixth grade, is the same plan I use now. Without organized materials like a calendar, a spreadsheet for how my time will be used, and color-coordinated folders and composition books, I’d be an utter and total mess.

I can absolutely see why people and students alike would be frustrated with being forced to move to online learning or may doubt their inability to get and stay organized.

According to Illinois Online, studying online as opposed to face to face classes is actually incredibly flexible, efficient and beneficial. “By studying online, you choose your own learning environment that works best for your needs: be it your bedroom, your study, the café across the street, or your local gym, listening to your instructor’s lecture podcast as you run on the treadmill. Isn’t that awesome?”

She’s right — I can’t wait to learn in my pajamas or make a sandwich while I listen to my English teacher’s NPR podcast assignment.

I can also see the frustration that online learning will bring to those students whose family lives are not optimal. I know not everyone gets along with parents and siblings, and I know how lucky I am to have a sensible, respectful, and encouraging family that I’m actually looking forward to spending more time with. But, to those out there with families or siblings that contribute to their anxiety, perhaps consider online-learning as your own “man cave” or “she shed” of learning, where you can immerse yourself in your education; maybe even more than you used to when you were actually in a classroom.

To me, this outbreak has given me both the opportunity to return to a very special place in my heart, the seclusion and isolation from the outside world has given me a profound realization. That online learning has returned for the better and it is only natural to get used to it for the time being.

Thanks to online learning, I have the ability to return to the life I have always dreamed of; staying inside, doing work from the comfort of my home and at my pace, sleeping in, and spending more time with my family.