Dragon Beat: Students Reflect On Online Learning Amid Pandemic

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Hello, Hillsboro! It is now week five of the self-isolation. Because of the lack of activity in the community, I decided to interview 12 different students of various ages about their experiences with distance learning. Here’s what I found:

What’s your daily schedule like?

All of the students I asked said that no matter what time they wake up, they get ready and start on their schoolwork first. Some of them only need a couple of hours to finish while others need most of the day. Beckemeyer Fifth Grader Beto Quiroz said that his homework only takes him an hour or two each day while college freshman at the University of Illinois, Alexa Huber, stated that her work takes most of her day. As expected, the amount of time spent on schoolwork correlates to how advanced their classes are and their grade level.

Most of the students made an effort to exercise or work out at least a few times a week. Some do lighter exercise daily while others do longer workout sessions less often. Current Eighth Grader Jesse Balla enjoys riding her bike around town and getting out and about. Other students don’t do specific things, but just spend some time playing active games with their siblings. 

All of the students have some form of relaxation or entertainment that they enjoy. Eden Pollitt, freshman at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, likes to watch YouTube videos in her free time. Ella Pfeifer, junior at HHS, likes to watch Netflix and play video games. HHS junior Griffin Wright, likes to play Minecraft with his friends (and me!). Other students liked to play board games with their family or play outside.

Is it easy or hard for you to learn online?

Whether they found the e-learning easy or hard depended on what material they were studying. The students at the high school and college level found it more difficult and often confusing. The more advanced classes are proving to be a challenge without direct interaction with peers and instructors. The younger the students, the easier the work seems to be for them (but likely not for their parents).

All college students are facing a similar problem: learning while being on a computer instead of in a class. Alexa said she “didn’t grow up with as much computer-based learning” and is having a harder time learning online. Eden says she “finds it harder to stay motivated” when she is working online and not physically going to school. Oliver Wright, college freshman at Michigan State University, has trouble with organizing his schedule. He said that he is “more likely to remember things when they are told to me in person” and sometimes has trouble remembering due dates.

What are you worried about for next year?

While none of the people I asked were too worried for next year, there were a few concerns. Ella Pfeifer brought up applying for colleges next year. She worries that it will be more difficult due to the missed opportunities, like volunteering and sports. All of the high schoolers voiced their concern about not being prepared for their harder classes next year. Griffin was more specifically worried about the dual-credit college classes he will be taking as a senior.

Neither Alexa nor Eden were very worried about the next year. They both have high hopes for the next year and believe that it will all work out. Oliver on the other hand is a bit more anxious. He is worried that he won’t be fully prepared for his fall calculus class because he isn’t learning as much as he would in a classroom during this term’s calculus course.

Saul Quiroz, freshman at HHS, is worried about next year’s marching band season and the possibility that it won’t happen. If the band can’t practice during the summer, they won’t be able to march during the fall parades and football season. 

How much have you been communicating with other people?

Each interviewee mentioned some kind of communication with their friends and family. Almost all of them said that they texted their friends usually every day. Callie Martincic, fourth grader, says that she Facetimes her friends daily.  A few of them also liked to talk with their friends and teachers on Zoom. 

Some of them are also communicating through social media like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. HHS junior Sarah Huber admitted that connecting with her friends without seeing them in person is difficult for her. 

What do you miss the most?

All the students I interviewed said that they missed their friends and peers the most.  Alexa stated that she misses seeing all the other college students on campus. Oliver misses the excitement and variety of his college life. He says that his day has become monotonous and boring because he sits at his desk for long periods and doesn’t get to go to other places to study. Eighth Grader Chloe Martincic misses the freedom of going out with friends and doesn’t like being constantly stuck at home.

Griffin and Sarah both miss going out to eat at restaurants. Many students miss their teachers and Andrea Huber, seventh grader, misses going to school as well. Ella misses her older brother Hayden, who left for the military in early March. She says that she has “come to the conclusion that he kept me sane, therefore I miss him the most”.

I’ve also found out that my dog, Walter, misses us leaving in the morning so he can take a nap. I think that everyone is missing something and wants this to be over soon. Until we can meet again in person, please remember to be kind, be truthful, and always keep your word. Have a great week, and until next time, bye!

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