Students adjust to the changing nature of education at Eastern

With a new pandemic, a new school schedule is forced to emerge. A combination of Zoom and Google Classroom along with optional in-person instruction two days a week gives students freedom and flexibility to choose how they want to learn this year. In a recent survey, students were asked about their experiences of online learning thus far. What learning environment do they prefer? Do students like Zoom? Just how many students are participating in hybrid learning? And finally, why or why not have students decided to attend hybrid learning?

Majority of students students still prefer in-person instruction overall against hybrid and online. (Arianna Morales)

Why do students still prefer in-person instruction over online or hybrid? (Which learning environment do you like the most?)

   Students still prefer total in-person instruction, leading with 34.7%. With 100% online learning close behind with 28.7% and hybrid learning at 22.7%. Students most likely prefer in-person due to heavy familiarity to the learning structure and the socialization. It represents normal. 

   With online learning close behind implies that students are adjusting and finding ways to use Zoom, Google Classroom and other appropriate applications to fill the gaps. Not to mention that online learning provides its own benefits like accessibility. 

   While hybrid learning is another challenge altogether, hybrid learning is a new idea that students aren’t quite used to as of yet. It’s supposed to provide the benefits of both online and in-person learning but instead feels like a forced mixture in which online learning seems to serve as a reminder that it’s not in-person.

   The schedules are shorter allowing students more time to do homework and time for themselves. However the shortened periods are actually creating more independent work for students because there just isn’t enough time to do the assignment during class. Overall, nearly 60% of respondents feel they have more homework and 53% feel they have more time to complete it.

 One student said, “Something that I wish I could change is class times or testing rules. For example, in specific classes I have tests and quizzes to take and they are long and time consuming. Because of the scheduled time, most teachers require us to finish the exam in less than 30 minutes, which gives me anxiety and I also get more mistakes, which causes my grades to drop.”

 One student said, “I like that I can focus better with online learning. My teachers are quicker to the point because of the condensed time period. I also like that we have extra help days that could either be rest days or days to complete work which is a huge benefit because I’ve needed it to complete work.”


How do students like Zoom for online learning? (Do you like using Zoom for online learning?)

   Just over the majority of student respondents reported that they like using Zoom for online learning, with 53.6%. Zoom is that main app that is used to conduct online learning through the creation of virtual meetings between teachers and students.

   However, staring at a screen consecutively for hours is mentally straining and exhausting. On the other hand, using Zoom provides the opportunity for students to learn at home and limit their exposure to Covid-19. Although, there’s no real substitute for in-person interaction; the lack of spontaneity during virtual meetings, as one student put it, almost emphasizes its inefficiency to create meaningful bonds students and teachers as awkward and quiet conversations pursue.

     Senior Kruit Karnik expressed her disdain for using zoom: “I greatly dislike using zoom for each class. Last year, I was able to learn and go through my class relatively easily and the same way I had before the coronavirus. Now that I have to attend zooms for several hours straight, I have had constant migraines and feel very exhausted unlike my previous years of high school including the spring of last school year. I wish that instead of having all of my classes through zoom that I could have only some of them each day and the rest would provide instruction through google classroom like last year.”

   But there are benefits to online learning and using Zoom. For instance, the chat allows for students to have one-on-one conversation with the teacher. While some students actually enjoy online learning because of the isolationism. It allows for students to work comfortably with programs and apps that they’re used to using only, now more frequently.

    One student said “So far, I think that online instruction is very effective because not only are we staying safe but we are still learning. I enjoy the fact that we get a break in between classes to freshen up, grab a snack, or just take a quick break away from the screen. I dislike that there is genuinely not real social interaction, and even with Zoom, no one talks or communicates with each other. I wish that we were able to have days where we can just talk to our classmates in breakout rooms. We could meet new people but only one-on-one because in groups, people get left out or left behind. Each person should be meeting with every other person in the class whether they know each other or not, and maybe then people wouldn’t be as shy when having to talk or turn on their cameras for Zoom classes.”


How many students are participating in hybrid learning? Why or why not? (Are you currently participating in hybrid learning? Why or why not?)

   Just over the majority of respondents reported that they are not attending hybrid learning. Those who chose not to attend typically emphasize their safety and health concerns with online learning providing them a preventative measure against the spread of the coronavirus. 

   Those who do attend do it to avoid online learning, for socialization, to finally reunite with friends, and form bonds with their teachers and classmates. Not to mention the other small benefits that come with in-person learning such as meeting people face to face and the participation of a familiar, albeit altered, learning environment that students are used to. 

   Freshman Kyle Goldstein stated “I originally thought that learning would be easier in the classroom, and I was partly correct. The learning aspect mainly stays the same, in my opinion, however it is way better to have the opportunity to ask teachers questions and talk to them anytime before, during, and after class.” 


What is the state of Eastern students?

   Although students generally enjoy the extra time to complete their assignments, most students just want to return to normalcy: in-person instruction. The current scheduling of 30 minutes per class period is too short and places too much stress on teachers and students; Eastern plans to reinstate longer classes of 45 minutes as of early November.

   Students are essentially placed at a crossroads when choosing between hybrid or online classes. While hybrid does offer a slice of normalcy as well as a familiar learning environment, fact of the matter is that most students don’t want to risk getting the coronavirus and by chance allow it to spread to their families. There have been three coronavirus cases reported at Eastern thus far and this information doesn’t help to ease the fear in many student’s hearts.    

   Senior Lauren Zubrzycki stated, “I am someone who appreciates waking up every morning and going to school. I love to learn new things and make new memories with my friends. I was so excited when I was able to go into school for Hybrid learning. When I had to go back on Zoom, I missed the school environment so much. There is just something about sitting at a desk within a classroom that changes your entire mindset. I hope that eventually we may be able to all go back into the classroom. Starting senior year like this is definitely upsetting, but we will get through this.”