Progress, in Progress

Statesman comments on importance of patience, initiative in improvement of E-Learning, communication.

Technology’s importance in society has been increasing for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed our use of it. For the first time in the digital age, the world has turned to online platforms in order to achieve some semblance of everyday life as schools have closed and students are forced to attend class online. 

Basically speaking, adaptation is important in order to improve new things, and E-Learning is no different. It should be expected for an online school system to initially have problems, adapting to better suit students’ needs over time. However, at Stevenson, many have expected an online school platform to solve all their problems, protecting  students and teachers from contact and COVID-19 while serving as an effective and accessible means to receive quality education. 

Statesman believes students should not be so quick to discredit the effectiveness of E-Learning. However, Statesman also recognizes that for the improvement of the school experience and quality of education, certain issues must be addressed.

Online learning, as it currently stands, certainly has its flaws; communication and building interpersonal relationships are now made significantly more difficult.

In order to provide the best educational experience, the consistent exchange of input and feedback is necessary.

However, in a virtual environment, student-teacher interaction has changed altogether. Teachers’ inboxes are often swamped, making it easy for individual student’s emails to get lost in a sea of unread messages. Still, teachers should try to respond to student emails, especially in a time where in-person exchanges aren’t feasible and emails are the best way for a student to advocate for themselves.

Statesman suggests implementing a 24-hour policy in which teachers would ideally reply within 24 hours of receiving a message from a student. Of course, if teachers are unable to sufficiently address students’ questions or concerns in that time frame, a simple acknowledgement that the email has been read and will be addressed  in the near future would suffice. 

The burden is not only on the teachers to promote communication; students should take initiative and reach out to their teachers when they need help. 

More difficult to resolve, however, is the lack of connection and social interaction between students. Students often find themselves in breakout rooms where all other participants are muted with their cameras off, creating an awkward atmosphere for conversation. Unfortunately, too often, peer pressure takes over—students who see others with their cameras off and microphones muted decide to follow, creating general awkwardness. 

Statesman hopes that students will be self-critical and recognize the need for change on an individual level. In order to resolve social-environmental struggles, it often begins with an individual stepping up in order to initiate interaction in an atmosphere of silent tension. This does not need to be a difficult process; if students simply leave their cameras on, they can create a more comfortable environment. 

Of course, the responsibility is not only on students, but teachers as well. Statesman believes that simply leaving students in breakout rooms is not an effective strategy to foster meaningful interpersonal connection in classrooms. Resultantly, Statesman would appreciate the increased use of breakout room activities that actively try to promote conversation, rather than work capable of being completed individually. 

While teachers can make a few changes to help, including making themselves more available, students need to apply themselves more fully in the classroom, actively trying to participate in class. Still, it is important to worry over the perfectness of E-Learning, but rather aim to improve it without adding increasing stress levels. In order for E-Learning to improve as an educational system, we must all take our individual steps, no matter how large, towards improving our experiences.