Why To Take Remote Learning Seriously

  To give my eyes a break from my phone, I look up to the clock ahead and check the time. “11:27 pm.” Shoot. I look back down, this time at my agenda book, and see all the assignments due the following day. Crap. I then check Powerschool to see if I can get away with turning the assignments in late without it affecting my grade too much. My heart pounds as the page refreshes and I aggressively tap my foot against the floor. Nope. Most definitely not. Regretting not taking remote learning more seriously, I make my way downstairs to make some coffee, as I will surely be up for the rest of the night. 

     Calling last spring’s remote learning confusing and hectic would surely be an understatement. The quick transition into a new form of learning caught students and teachers off guard. It resulted in many students doing poorly due to the lack of communication, and feeling unmotivated because they were in the comfort of their own homes. On the other hand, the students who took remote learning just as seriously as normal school were successful. To address the academic issues some students are facing, they should be taking it more seriously, and they can learn how from their peers. 

     During remote learning, it’s easy to not be focusing on school as much as usual. There’s an increase in distractions and a lack of motivation as we are surrounded by family. However, it is important to still keep up with school because it’s still happening, just not how we are used to. If students dedicate themselves to remote learning, they’ll likely be more successful when Oyster River returns to in-person learning. 

     A part of that dedication includes staying up to date on school work, and teachers stress the importance of this. Classes, such as math, build upon each other, and neglecting work right now can put you in a stressful position in the future. Using Calculus as an example, math teacher Lisa Hallbach states, “The calculus curriculum doesn’t change, so the precalculus students this year still need to know the same material regardless of whether we are in the building or [in] a remote setting.” Halbach’s statement applies to all classes. It’s crucial to understand every chapter or lesson in order to move onto the next. 

    Looking back at last spring’s remote learning, I barely watched the video lessons for my classes, especially math. I would do well on the formative assignments, but when test days came around, I found myself struggling. I realized that if I didn’t understand even one lesson in the chapter, I couldn’t understand the other lessons either. 

     This experience taught me that Halbach’s statement about how class materials build upon each other is accurate. Once I started paying more attention in class and keeping up with video lessons, I found that I was  more successful in the class. Simply taking the time to understand material allowed me to take remote learning more seriously.

     Another predicament of an online setting is that it’s difficult for teachers to tell whether students are being academically faithful. I’ve heard about many people who have taken advantage of the remote setting to cheat on tests. However, it is important they recognize that it will negatively impact them later. Cheating is another factor that causes students to not fully grasp a concept in a class. There have been many times during remote learning where I was tempted to glance over at my notes during a test or quiz, but I knew that it would only hurt me in the end. To avoid being in a position where I felt the need to cheat, I started preparing better for tests and quizzes. 

     According to the article 8 Astonishing Stats on Academic Cheating, from Open Education Database, about 83.5% of students regret cheating on tests. Like those students, the people who are cheating on the remote tests and quizzes at ORHS will most likely regret their decision as well. They will have a disadvantage once we go back to a classroom setting if they didn’t actually learn the material they should have understood. 

    Most often, students feel the need to cheat because they were unmotivated to prepare for the test in the first place. However, remote learning caused students to have a difficult time staying motivated, as turning off their cameras and microphones is an option in this learning environment. Lucy Picard (‘23) states that, “it is so easy to get distracted because you can go on your phone in class without teachers knowing, unlike normal school.” 

     Teachers understand that staying engaged in class is something students struggle with. Social Studies teacher David Hawley emphasizes that turning cameras on will help you pay attention in class. Hawley states, “If they are multitasking and have their cameras off, they might not have the full direction of where the class is going.” He continues explaining that turning your mics on and chiming in during class is also a good way to stay connected.

     As Hawley mentioned, whenever I have my camera on in my classes, I am not only understanding what is happening in class, but also enjoying it more. Everyone in the class, including the teacher, being able to see me forced me to stay off my phone in case there would be consequences for it. Seeing everyone’s faces and having everyone see you also makes remote learning feel more like a normal classroom setting too.

     Outside of class, many students feel that their phones are also a big distraction to their learning. Myself, for example, but also National Honor Society student, Matteo Carrucio (‘22). Carrucio explains that it is easy for him to just scroll through his social media feeds, eat snacks, and basically do anything but his homework. However, he recently made an effort to battle the distraction stating, “I tried keeping my phone outside of my room and that definitely helps me procrastinate less.” 

     Similar to Carrucio’s method, I also keep my phone either on the other side of my room or not in my room at all. This has helped me focus on the assignment without checking my phone every couple minutes. Another strategy I use is setting timers. I set a timer for thirty minutes and work for that whole time. After the thirty minutes is complete, I set another timer for five minutes to check my phone. This has helped me not only get my work done, but has helped my brain stay focused for longer periods of time. 

    Like overcoming procrastination, staying organized was difficult for many people including me. However, it can be beneficial to being successful in remote learning. For example, I had a hard time keeping track of assignments which led me to turning things in late. I would also receive several emails every day because it was the only way of communicating with teachers. The large amount of emails I was receiving led to important ones from teachers getting lost in my inbox and disrupted the communication. However, I turned this negative experience into a learning opportunity. I learned to stay organized by checking my emails more often. I started keeping my mail tab open on my laptop so that if I get an email, my laptop gives me a notification. This notification helped me remember to read the email. 

     Remembering what times classes were happening was also a problem for me. Oftentimes, I would get side tracked and forget I had a meeting. I would go into the meeting late and miss out on important info which negatively impacted me when doing assignments. Lydia Kurtiak (‘21) explains that towards the end of remote learning in the spring, she realized having a set schedule helped her succeed in school. She said, “I made my schedule strict so that I have to do homework at this time and school meetings at another.” She continues, “a set schedule also forced me to be more productive.”

     Like Kurtiak, I also set up a schedule and wrote down times my classes started. Our brains can only remember so much and writing down everything had a large role in making my education easier. I invested in an organized agenda book with lots of space. I wrote down my homework in each class as soon as it was assigned. This has helped me keep track of what assignments I have to do and when they are due. 

     Remote learning is so strange to all of us, but it’s important to take it seriously. There’s also so much we have learned from it! Staying organized, fighting distractions, and paying attention in class will all lead us to become better students not only now, but also in the future. They’ll help you to be more efficient with any task you are trying to accomplish whether it’s for work, school, etc. These skills are essential when we go back into a normal classroom and even after we graduate highschool.