Distance learning: Both sides of the experience


Ms. Adina

Classroom sit empty in Barlow during distance learning.

Coen Neiwert, Assistant Editor and Social Media Editor

The 2020-2021 school year is definitely a year nobody expected. By now, so many clubs, activities, and events would be taking place but due to the pandemic, both students and teachers have had to adjust to an online world. With so much stress and confusion going on, creating an understanding right now is just what we need. So far this year, students and teachers haven’t really gotten to sit down and hear about the other side’s point of view when it comes to online school. Issues such as stress, workload, and cameras all need to be talked about in order to create a better understanding. 

In-person vs online:


We can all agree that nothing about this year is easy. Although there may be some advantages to school online for students such as shorter class time, independence, or longer time to do work, there is still so much to navigate, and being on a computer for most of the day can be mentally draining. Some students say they are spending about 5-8 hours a day on their computers. When it comes to how different online is from in-person, senior Madelynn Riorden says, “I think we have less of a workload online than in person, or at least I feel like it’s more manageable. We have half the day and all night to complete assignments.” One of the biggest perks of online school is having more freedom. Being able to do what you want during the day and having all night to complete an assignment is something most students enjoy. Overall, students enjoy in-person school a lot more. When asked how online school has affected his learning, senior Donavan Morales-Coonrad says, “It has seriously made it hard to get the extra help I need. When we go in person, I normally stay after school to get the help but now I have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops to get help.” Having an in-person connection definitely helps a lot more to get help rather than via email which most students and teachers agree with. When it comes to online learning there are many pros and cons. Students feel as though there was more independence this year, but getting help is harder than before. 


For teachers, it’s a similar story. Some teachers say they are spending about 12-13 hours a day on a computer this year which can be mentally draining. Math teacher, Laura Duncan says, “I don’t mind online teaching, but I prefer in-person because it’s quite difficult to gauge learning and to build relationships through a screen.” Part of school is building a connection between students and teachers, further allowing learning/teaching to be more effective. Due to online school though, the in-person connection isn’t as strong. This year is especially difficult for science teachers. Due to online learning, classes aren’t able to do labs which allowed teachers to demonstrate certain ideas or topics. Science teacher, Nathan Eckrich states, “being a science teacher, my classes have always been centered around hands-on learning and labs.  It is one of the reasons I love teaching science and why many students like science classes. Teaching science in an online format in an engaging way is challenging.” This year is just as difficult, if not more, for teachers than students. With so much time adjusting lessons to be online and the number of hours spent on their computers, teachers are working really hard to maintain an effective school year. Students need to understand they aren’t the only ones working hard because teachers are putting in the same amount of effort as us. We can all agree that online school is a lot more difficult but due to our circumstances, we have to make do with what we can.



Cameras are a big discussion point for most students and teachers all around the country this year. Some schools require them to be on, but others make it optional. Most teachers and students can relate to joining a class and seeing a screen full of circles. The majority of students don’t like to have their cameras on and this can be for multiple reasons. On the issue of turning his camera off in classMorales-Coonrad says, “I like it when I can turn mine off because I do get in my head sometimes when it comes to people looking at me and I’m afraid they might think of me horribly.” Most students can relate to not liking the idea that there is any sort of attention on them and when nobody but you has their camera on, it can feel like all eyes are on you. Riorden gives another perspective on cameras stating, “I think the camera should be on honestly. Students are more prone to do nothing if their microphones and cameras are off. But if their camera is on they will probably be engaged more and present with the lecture.” It’s understandable how frustrating it can be for teachers to not be able to see the students they are talking to but there can be a lot of different reasons why someone has chosen to turn their camera off. 


From a teacher’s perspective it can be very difficult when cameras are off during class, Eckrich states, “Being a social person is super hard for me to have cameras off in class. It feels like I’m talking to the void and have no idea if students are understanding or connecting with what we are doing. I really appreciate those students that feel comfortable enough to have their cameras on but at the same time I understand there are some legitimate reasons to have cameras off.” Being able to see students engaging in the lesson makes online school feel a bit more normal. Mrs. Duncan feels a little different about cameras in class, she states, “I don’t mind if cameras are off because while I’m teaching, I can’t see the Google Meet screen anyway. I miss seeing all of your faces, but I can wait until we get back.” Some teachers, like Duncan, don’t look at the live meet while teaching and present content instead, but for the teachers that use the meet, cameras being off can be difficult. Overall, turning your camera on in class can be a helpful way of letting your teacher know that you are present in class but also knowing that not every student wants to be viewable for any sort of reason is okay as well. 

This year has been interesting, to say the least. Online school has some benefits that we didn’t realize before, but we can all agree that in-person school was a lot more helpful and fun. Once students realize how much work teachers are putting in and how helpful having your camera on in class can be we can start to change the way we view online learning. For teachers, knowing how difficult learning independently can be for some students and realizing why most students have their cameras off, you can start to understand your student’s perspective a little better. Though this article can’t speak for everyone, I hope it was able to give you some sort of insight into the other side’s perspective and allowed you to think about how difficult this time is for everyone.