A difficulty in class discussions. A propensity for procrastination. A deficit of energy.
Despite efforts to enhance distance learning through creative scheduling and more technology, DM teachers and students said spending the first quarter teaching and learning in front of the computer proved challenging.
“Teaching 30 plus people online in the same virtual world makes it harder to have open discussions,” said physics teacher Mr. Hill, who is in his 14th year at DM.
Hill discussed many difficulties surrounding hands-on and interactive activities and how those activities cannot be replicated in the online world. The virtual environment forced Hill and most teachers to move at a slower pace; some of the curricula had to be changed.
“I personally am missing the opportunity to allow students to complete activities in a more interactive, hands-on way that we just can’t quite replicate in the online world,” Mr. Hill said.
The 2020-21 school year that many are calling “crazy” launched on Aug. 10, when the Scottsdale Unified School District, which committed to following Center for Disease Control guidelines, started the school year under an Enhanced Distance Learning model.
Teachers were forced to find effective ways to teach–and students were forced to find a way to learn well in front of a computer. Without a classroom, both groups said developing a classroom chemistry was a challenge.
“I do think the virtual environment forces me to move a little slower because of the time it takes me to write on documents and load things so that students can see,” Hill said, “and it’s not the same in terms of personal interaction.
“I also find it harder to get to know students.”
There were some advantages, students said.
“Online school takes less time,” said DM junior Caroline Alstader, “and I can get homework done easier.”
But Alstader admitted EDL posed some difficulties as well. Alstader said that in a physical school environment, students can more easily ask questions, and teachers have an easier time answering them.
Most students agreed that hands-on practice and engaging activities with the material is lacking in EDL.
“Having the teacher next to you to show you things and answer questions makes school easier,” said DM freshman Karishma Mamnani.
EDL caused her stress levels to increase, Mamnami said, because of more opportunities for procrastination and distraction.
“I think online school is a little more stressful,” she said, “because I don’t have as much motivation to get everything done.”