Students Grapple with eLearning and Time

An article by Mr. Laycock's Newspaper Students

The unexpected and unprecedented school closure has forced the teachers and students of Heritage to teach and learn in a whole new way. It has drastically altered life for everyone, and, perhaps, it has at least begun to help us to view differently the opportunities that we took for granted just months ago. Are students already longing to again roam the halls of Heritage? What do they think of a full-time schedule of eLearning? With all of this time at home in quarantine, while taking part in the new phenomenon of social distancing, what are students doing for fun? The students in Mr. Laycock’s Newspaper classes set out to answer these questions and keep the community up to date with how the coronavirus situation is affecting the students of Heritage.

Editor in chief of the Patriot Post, junior Lillian Buuck, wrote that “Parents, teachers, and students alike would all rather have school in session as usual, but they can also all agree that eLearning is better than no learning. With today’s technology, students are able to continue their education and avoid falling behind next school year or having to make up the last two months of school once the outbreak is under control.”

Buuck interviewed junior, Rachel Zelt, who said, “I would rather be doing eLearning than making up the days that we are missing because it seems more beneficial to the situation that we are currently in, seeing that this pandemic will last months. Though it is more of a challenge to successfully grasp concepts without a teacher visually teaching, I believe it is safer right now for everyone.”

While students are taking on the task of eLearning with positivity, concerns and challenges exist.

“Elearning has definitely been taxing. Students are piled with 14-21 assignments per week. Though some of the assignments are easier than others, the work still takes time. Even with most assignments being able to be done within an hour, the struggle to find motivation to complete them is awful. I would much rather go back to school and complete my assignments around my classmates, than doing them in isolation. By being at school, the relationships make the schoolwork worth it, and that is something that is obviously not provided by eLearning at home,” said senior, Parker Tracey.

Junior, Rasheed Reeves, wrote, “The biggest issue students are facing is the strict content restrictions on the school iPads. Due to the content restrictions put in place, students aren’t able to watch every YouTube lesson teachers send to canvas, causing some students to have difficulty fully grasping a certain concept.”

Sophomore, Evan Niemeyer referred to problems such as “slow internet and lack of motivation,” but also said that “Overall, the workload has been easier to manage than regular schoolwork.

The elder Niemeyer found concern from freshman Eli Niemeyer who said, “Most of the assignments have been easier, but I’m still not sure what the consequences will be if we don’t learn everything we need for each course.”

Madison Rigsby wrote, “Although we have to have a certain amount of days for eLearning, it has been a lot for many of the students.” She interviewed a junior female who said, “My opinion is that I think eLearning should be down to one day a week. Teachers are mad because some of the students are cheating, but when we are virtually learning it’s hard to thoroughly understand everything. I think it’s a little much for everybody to handle.”

Freshman, Lydia Geise said, “Most students have gotten pretty bored. While most everyone gets to sleep in, do whatever they want, and finally have plenty of time on their hands, eLearning has been very hard on some people. Some may agree that the online learning is more work than normal school. It is also hard to learn because most students don’t have a teacher in their house. It is hard to communicate with teachers when you have questions about anything. It is also just tough being stuck at home for weeks.”

Senior, Zachary Tuttle focused on opposing concerns in the area of time, referring to students who “find themselves having far too much time on their hands and struggle to fill the void left due to the virus. For others, they find themselves struggling to keep up with the demands of time. There is only so much time in a day. While many are laid off from work, some find themselves needing to work more. One example of this is the fast food field. Fast food workers have been needed now more than ever. Fast food companies are absolutely flooded with customers due to the risks of going into a Kroger or a Walmart. This all ends up affecting students. Many high school students work in the fast food field, and this need of workers keeps them from doing other things. ELearning quickly becomes an afterthought for most of these teens. No one wants to come home from work just to do schoolwork.”

With the challenges of eLearning and, at least in many cases, a lot of extra time on their hands, students are also in need of ways to have fun. Senior, Morgan Castleman, said “Social Media has been pivotal in keeping people of all ages connected in a time of social isolation.” The senior interviewed freshman, Sydney Castleman, who has been utilizing the platform TikTok, to stay connected to her friends and express her creativity. Sydney Castleman said that she “enjoys TikTok because it is entertaining and easy to pass time.” On TikTok she usually watches a couple hours of other users' creativity before deciding what type of video she would like to create. Many others have also turned to the platform for laughs, distraction and community when they are missing friends and experiences. TikTok will continue to bring happiness and connection as we go through the isolation of the pandemic.

Senior, Jessica Collins, actually referred to work in a positive light, stating that “since the closing of schools due to COVID-19, students are trapped at home. Students are reporting a raised level of boredom as most structure in their lives is gone. As a person that is an essential worker, my job has now become a getaway. I consider my job an oasis. This quarantine has also given me a chance to finally explore my creative side.”

Penelope Hunt, a sophomore, said, “Although I’m super bored, if it weren’t for staying home in quarantine, I wouldn’t have found my new favorite show, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine.’” She has  watched many shows since school let out, and through social media she has also heard of the shows her friends are watching during this time of seclusion. For example, Erika Gerardot has watched “Friends” and “All American,” favoring the latter. With apps such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc., students and their families are able to relax and watch hundreds of movies and tv shows while staying in their homes.    

Aside from television and video games, reading is another possible outlet for the student’s mind.The coronavirus has given me a lot of time to catch up on some reading, as well as sleep,” said sophomore, Wil Rohrbach. “Reading is one popular way to pass time in the wake of the coronavirus. It also could help strengthen one’s mind and vocabulary while they are out of school.” Ms. Albietz, the Heritage Librarian, has made 10,500 e-books available to the students, so if one does not have physical books, one can always jump online and read a good book. While studiously taking time to read, Rohrbach also admitted to watching some Netflix shows, saying “I am continuing to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Criminal Minds.

Senior Jalene Griffin recognized the value in finding some time outdoors, saying “There are many ways that people have been trying to fight the boredom that comes along with being in isolation. The CDC has told people to go to state parks and walk around. It is safe if you stay away from others. They said getting out and moving around is crucial because being alone for long periods of time can have negative effects.”

 “Personally, I have been enjoying this quarantine just as much as I predicted I would. Being at home with my thoughts has given me the opportunity to reflect on myself and work more on getting my grades up, while also improving my mental and physical health,” said Kaydence Palm, a sophomore.

Freshman, Parker Kuhns, had a light-hearted take on his way of handling the time, saying “This break I thought I would focus my energy on being productive by learning a new skill every day.  I was very excited at the thought of improving myself. So far, I have slept, went on runs, and eaten too much. Seems like I am right on track of my goal. Although life is boring it will go on. Everyone is united in the boredom that ensues. Together as people we can get through it.  The only thing that truly affects me [negatively] is [missing] my track season, I miss it.”

It seems that the students of Heritage are taking on this unprecedented time with courage and positivity and finding ways to keep themselves entertained, while being away from the hallowed halls of Heritage.

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