Online school is better than in-person school

May 1, 2020 — by Edwin Chen

As COVID-19 ravaged the country, Santa Clara County shut down all schools and mandated a shelter-in-place in mid-March. The state soon followed with its own shelter in place mandate. 

With the school closure came a new challenge: how to give students the best education possible under the circumstances. Like most other schools and universities, SHS chose an online education model. 

For me, online learning has been teachers sending out emails of the daily agenda and the homework. The daily agenda typically consists of a slide show or a video lesson by the teacher. The homework would either have to be turned in as a Google Doc or a PDF, and it is typically the same amount of work we would get during regular school. 

Few of my classes actually arranged meetings before the implementation of a new schedule on April 20. This schedule requires all classes to meet for at least 15 minutes twice a week, prompting all teachers to hold more meetings. 

During the first week in late March, online learning was a complete mess for me. With the daily barrage of emails from all of my teachers, organizing my school work became harder since I had to carefully read through each email and figure out what I had to do for the day. Sometimes, I would miss school work and turn in my assignments late because I misread one of my teacher’s long emails. 

However, as I grew more accustomed to online school, I realized that it's better than normal school. 

The schedule appears to be getting more relaxed as the weeks go by. As part of the school’s Phase 2 of online learning, the schedule has been modified to Monday and Thursday being odd-period Red Days, Tuesday and Friday being even-period Blue Days, with no school on Wednesdays. Each class period is one hour and occurs at the same times on the same days, greatly simplifying everyone’s lives. 

Since it ensures that we actually have class meetings, this change is more organized than the chaotic alternating Red Day, Blue Day schedule during the normal school year, and it gives us a needed break in the middle of the week. (For me, it would be better if we had Friday off instead because I would prefer a three-day weekend.) 

Another way online school has improved my life is the ability to learn at my own pace. For example, in Precalculus, lessons have been condensed to around 30 minutes instead of the entire class period. Sometimes, if it’s a video recording, I don’t need to listen to all of it anyway; I just need to listen to the explanations of each new concept and example problems. Then I can be done.

Other times, if a concept is hard, I can rewind and listen to the explanation again or access other online resources all in the same block of time. If I had a question during class, a teacher would have to either stop the entire class to answer my question or I would have to find the teacher during tutorial the next day. This would push back my schedule and cause more stress since I couldn’t complete the homework.

If a question really cannot be answered by using internet resources, the teacher is still available during office hours. Online learning allows each individual to truly learn at their own pace while giving them enough structure so that they don’t slack off. 

Online school has not only helped me learn better, it has also taught me to be more organized.

I started using more to-do lists to keep track of work, due dates and synchronous online classes. I have been more on top of my work during this quarantine than any other moment in the school year. 

Even though I hope this quarantine ends soon to maintain my sanity, online school actually isn’t all that bad. I honestly prefer it to normal school because it is a much freer environment compared to the strictly structured environment of school.

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

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