Love It Or Hate It: 5 Things I Miss About Online Learning

Student Life

On March 8th, 2021, when we returned to school after another round of online learning, I curiously asked my peers, “did you miss coming to school?” To my surprise, almost everyone replied with a vehement “YES!” I was convinced that we all felt the same and withheld my negative views about in-person learning. Don't get me wrong: I'm not necessarily here to argue that the entire education system should be transferred to the virtual world. However, I'm here to discuss the reasons why I loved those unusual days when 'school' became synonymous with Google Classroom, and why I miss that.

1) Get up and go...literally

As students, I believe we have all experienced those days when we do not want to get out of bed. We are awake, but having to part from our bed and bid it an emotional farewell becomes excruciatingly difficult. Such a simple task- pulling yourself up, rubbing the sleep away from your eyes, and standing up- transforms into the impossible. You say to yourself, “I can't today. I just can't!” As someone who loves sleep, these tough mornings are mortifyingly familiar. If I may, I would even like to reveal such a day when I cried whilst dragging myself to the bathroom! So, you can only imagine what a paradise it was for a sleep-lover when I could get up and begin my lessons straight from my bed. No tears were shed, and no heartbreaking moments of separation from my beloved bed. It was complete and utter bliss. This was my routine: wake up; yawn; rub my eyes open; grab my laptop and log in to Google Classroom (of course, with my video and audio off). Pure happiness!

Now, I must admit (even though I loved this routine) that it was NOT the most productive way to begin my day. There were some days when I would yawn throughout the entirety of my first lesson, and that was because I was still half-asleep in my bed. Though I did carry out my lessons and completed the tasks within the time limit set, it was like walking through a maze because I was simply not fully awake. Therefore, during the tragic last weeks of online learning, I decided to wake up and, most importantly, get up, a little earlier to prepare myself and ensure I was, at least, awake before beginning my classes. And sure enough, the tasks seemed not as daunting. So, I definitely would recommend making yourself presentable, but I won't lie either that doing lessons curled up in a blanket was incredibly fun, too!

2) Working at your own pace

Several times, I have encountered a terrifying sense of confusion during lessons, struggling to comprehend even the simplest of concepts. Maybe I'm having a bad day? Maybe the topic isn't quite my thing? But, regardless, at that moment, I wish that I would be able to take a step back, perhaps go for a walk, and return with a fresh perspective. Unfortunately, when you are in a regimented environment — such as school — you don't have that liberty. However, when the platform moves online, you can structure the day according to your liking and work at your own pace. Some tasks will come naturally to you, and you may be done before the time is up. Whereas other tasks may demand more cognitive effort from you, and thus, you may need more time than provided. What I found during online learning is that I could do things my way and not have to worry about impacting other students around me. I remember when my English teacher had set an essay writing task, and (I still haven't discovered the reason why) my mind was just NOT focusing. This resulted in me taking multiple breaks by either just stepping away for a couple of minutes, or completing other tasks, to get into the zone before I could produce the essay and submit it. (And boy, did it feel good hitting the submit button after spending hours!) But, you see, if I were in school and faced that kind of conundrum in a lesson, I would not be able to do that and would have to turn in an empty sheet of paper!

However, in saying all of this, I do realize that in a real-life situation (say, working in an office) being able to think and produce under pressure is extremely crucial. If you were to go up to your boss and say, “Sir, please, I really can't right now! I need some time! Could I please go out for some fresh air and come back later,” chances are that your proposal may get rejected because in real-life scenarios, you have to hustle and there just isn't enough time! That's why school is important because it prepares you for that. Thinking and producing under pressure, which, unfortunately, online learning is not able to do. (But, my naive heart still misses it!)

3) A new sense of teamwork

Schools around the world encourage teamwork. And why shouldn't they? After all, it is an essential skill to have, especially for (yes, you've guessed it) real-life scenarios. Therefore, it was refreshing to see that teamwork could even be carried out under virtual circumstances, especially during our online maths lessons. For example, our teacher would display a problem, and we would feel motivated to find the solution to it by working together, whether it be by adding our thoughts through the chat function, or verbally. But, we would get there at the end together. Even during the online English lessons, where we had to analyze a particular character or a quote, we would help to develop each other's ideas by contributing our own thoughts. I'll admit: everyone was a little skeptical whether we would lose the sense of teamwork when we transferred online, but it was rather the opposite. We all discovered a new sense of unity and returned with a strengthened concept of teamwork.

4) Hearing from the people who you usually don't hear from in class

In every class, there are always a few people who never speak! And this is not necessarily because they don't know what's going on, or don't know the answer, but rather because they feel a little timid putting their hand up and communicating with the whole class. However, I found that during online learning, those people were often the ones that contributed the most during the lessons. And it felt great finally to hear from those unsung heroes! They all discovered their voices and confidence on the online platform and were able to express their ideas and thoughts. But, as much as I was excited to hear from them, I was as dejected about going back to school and being met with their silence once again. Though, at the same time, I realized that the education system may not ever be able to cater to everyone's needs, comfort zones, and likings. Some prefer the online format and others don't. This is not to say that they will completely reject one style rather than the other, but will have to tailor themselves to be able to work in the required manner. It is slightly confusing to accept, but just shines light upon the fact that each human mind is diverse and unique.

5) Being surrounded by your family whilst you work

When you're just not having a good day, it is always inspiring to have your family beside you, cheering you on. “Don't give up! You will get there. Just five more questions to go, and you'll be done with photosynthesis for today!” Sometimes, just these kind and tender words of encouragement from your family are ample to get you through the day. I remember (this time probably during an online history lesson) the feeling of wanting to shut down my laptop, crawl into my bed, and not see the light of day until the next morning. But, the familiar sound of my mother walking into my room with the vacuum cleaner motivated me, as well as made me laugh when my teacher asked me a question and instead of hearing my voice, she heard "vroooommm"! I was very fortunate to be in the company of my parents and two sisters every day but, the most magical thing was that they didn't even have to say anything because, sometimes, just being there was enough. However, once again, I do realize that you may not always have that. I'll give you another office-work scenario again. Say you're given a task to complete and it is not the most exciting thing in the world, and on top of that, you're running low on motivation. So, you think to yourself, if my sisters were beside me, I would be able to get it done, but, of course, you cannot just drag your sisters into your workplace! So, another alternative is relying upon the memories of your sisters and their encouraging voices to get you through. And, I'll admit, that very skill is something that school teaches you. (But, I do miss the days when my sisters and I would be in the same room, quietly getting along with our work, but still together.)

But, like how every good thing has to come to an end, my blissful days of online learning did as well. Online learning has its charm, as well as its flaws. For example, technical issues, when, for some unknown reason, your laptop just won't log into the lesson! However, I'm very grateful that I have been able to have an overall positive experience. I think that I'll always have a soft spot for online learning, but, at least now, my history teacher won't have to listen to my mother vacuuming.

Fairooz Jahan
1,000+ pageviews

Fairooz Jahan is a high school student in the UK. Originally from Bangladesh, she discovered her passion for writing whilst she was exploring the process of acquiring English as a second language. Besides writing, she enjoys watching films, cooking and talking a lot.