Cardinal illustration by Kelsey Grissam

Journalism 2 students speak out on virtual learning

January 12, 2021

Alexa Toler and Reagan Smith, Journalism 2 students, chose this topic for one of their media projects this semester. Smoke Signals wants to share the great work of these future staff members.

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Alexa Toler: ‘In my eyes, virtual learning is great’

Alexa Toler, Journalism 2

Who knew one day we would wake up in a world where we couldn’t go to school. March 16th 2020 was that day.

Now we do school online and have no in school interaction because of Covid-19. Over the last few months the positives and negatives of virtual learning have been highlighted in things like social interaction, time management, and everyday life.

Social interaction is very important and being in virtual learning makes it sometimes difficult. Some positives to social interaction with virtual learning include being able to meet with people on google meeting, and still having sports.

Students can interact and play games through the Google Meet platform which is a positive thing to virtual learning. Our school sports also help us with social interaction while still doing virtual learning because we still get to see the people we are on a team with outside of school.

The negatives include not being able to do group activities, and not being able to go in every day and see your friends. Group activities were a fun part of school like doing newscasts, doing group projects, and just group work with your friends in class.

Seeing your friends was the best part of school and the bad part is some people have lost connection with friends because of virtual learning.

Also it’s hard to not see people every day. It takes a toll on some people’s mindsets.

Time management is something a lot of people are great at but also something a lot of people struggle with. The positives to time management through virtual learning is that it helps prepare us for college, and we can take more time on things that require more time and effort.

Virtual learning is preparing us for college because in college you will have time on your own to do assignments. With at-home learning you can do everything in one day if you want to, and just show up for the Google Meets the rest of the week.

Another positive is being able to take more time on things that need it. Some assignments require a lot of work and effort so with virtual learning you can take time on those things and get a better grade because if you were in school you might have a small period of time to do those things.

The negatives to time management with virtual learning include you have to plan ahead, and you have to show up for Google Meets.

Sometimes you are working on other work and it’s time for your Google Meet because you get carried away and don’t look at the time and miss your meeting.

With virtual learning we have had to get used to our everyday life at home.

In the morning you can just wake up and go to your computer. You don’t have to get dressed up; you can just show in your pajamas.

Also another good thing is getting more sleep. You don’t have to wait for the bus or get up and take time to get ready. You can get up at 8:55 and login to your first class.

The negatives to everyday life with virtual learning include never getting out of the house, and missing out on school activities.

Going to school was the best part of some students’ days and school was a place to get away from everything else going on. Fun school activities like prom, homecoming, and pep-rallies are something students look forward to and now there is nothing to look forward to.

In my eyes, virtual learning is great.

I love being able to stay home and get my work done in the times I choose.

Like everything in life, there are pros and cons to online learning.

Not everyone agrees, but we have to do this to keep ourselves and our families safe.

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Reagan Smith: Virtual learning harder than it seems

Reagan Smith

Every morning I wake up, get ready for a day of sitting in front of a screen, and then log into my first virtual class of the day.

I typically spend at least four hours a day during the work week staring at a bright computer screen until my eyes start to  cross  and I have to quit.

I feel guilty most of the time because I am so aware of all the assignments I could be doing instead of walking the dogs or reading a book.

Soon enough my day is over and I wake up and do it all over again.

Some days are easier than others in terms of motivation. There are days when all you can find the drive to do is one assignment before you feel so tired that you just quit.

On others you may be determined to get no less than five assignments done and then you just keep going.

I have just accepted that there are days when you can’t make yourself do everything all at once and that’s okay.

I’ve talked with various GRC students on how they are finding the motivation to do their work and most of them just aren’t.

Procrastination is such a huge issue simply because students have so many distractions and with everything happening around them there is so much else they could be doing besides their work.

I have come to find that I dread the time when Monday comes around and  I have to open my Chromebook and see, what seems to be, a never ending list of new work all due before the next Monday.

You get through what seems to be most of the work for the week and then more work is assigned right when you think you are almost through it.

The stress from the pressure of it all can very quickly get to be too much.

Some students are handling the stress better than others, but it has been a major problem for students across the board.

The mountain of work that many students are facing, mostly on their own, due to the fact that students are typically too nervous to ask for help across a computer, results in a constant weight on the chests of our students.

The lack of structure that comes with a typical in-person school day is something that I think we all took for granted before.

Now with how we structure being up to ourselves it can be pretty hard to keep ourselves on track. It is much easier to get behind with online work because we don’t have our teachers right there with us to make sure we get through everything.

That structure is something,  it seems, many have come to miss and appreciate.

I, and plenty of  others, have come to realize that virtual school is much harder than any of us first anticipated.

After these months of online school, I now recognize how important in-person school is for many.

A lot of GRC students  are feeling more alone now than ever and it is really affecting the overall mental health of our students.

I believe we seriously have to take into consideration how much longer some can stand the isolation before it gets to be too much.

The constant back-and-forth of what the plan is with virtual and in-person is not helping anyone. That instability results in too much worry from our students and staff.

I strongly advocate for in-person education at this time, but the fact is a decision needs to be made and it needs to stick, whatever it may be, for the well-being of our community.

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