By Inara Hossain
This article includes actually feedback from multiple students at Loreto Normanhurst
Adaline is not a real person
The suburb Ammigle does not actually exist
There is no Onama High
In the suburbs of Ammigle resides a local student of Onama High, let's name her Adaline. Due to recent lockdowns, Adaline has been attending online school. However, teachers report she has been facing a large number of internet issues.
Adaline has been reported through multiple peers and teachers to be having problems ranging from a broken microphone to her entire Zoom disconnecting. Not much attention has been given to Adaline’s internet issues, as many have been having trouble due to the new system.
As Adaline graduates, however, she has admitted to giving misleading information regarding her bad internet connection during class. She has admitted to lying about her microphone being broken, her camera not working and her Zoom crashing.
Now by no means is Adaline a bad student as she excels in her grades and teachers know her to be a diligent and hard-working student. So the question remains as to why Adaline would be lying?
Online school has been a difficult experience for many students and teachers, as stressful situations like a disconnection from the wifi is multiplied in terms of stressfulness as academic pressures weigh in.
Not only do students need to be focusing on their education but they also need to put extra attention into their work-life balance. The thought of being at home usually puts students at peace as they would usually only have homework and assignments to do at home. However, due to online learning, students face constant stress and pressure as their home environment becomes their working one too.
Besides the added pressure, students are also having trouble with how they are learning at school. Online learning is a way of connecting us all to our normal learning as we can no longer connect in person. However, while online learning connects us digitally there is still a large disconnection between students. As important as it is to continue learning, we cannot ignore the fact that it is almost impossible to continue learning as normal while remaining comfortable with ourselves.
Aspects of normal school cannot be easily adapted to an online environment without creating problems. Ideas like group work and collaboration are things that work really well in person since being able to share ideas with each other makes students work efficiently, however, group work online is a reason for great stress and discomfort for students online.
Almost all the students asked, say that they greatly dislike break out rooms. The main reason for this is the awkwardness of it. When entering breakout rooms usually no one speaks and there's just a long awkward silence, and if they do it is extremely hard to collaborate and divide tasks up evenly. A student reports that “it’s really hard to communicate work and ideas through Zoom if everyone is too shy and awkward to say anything”.
Zoom presentations when it comes to group work and projects are even harder since it is hard to collaborate. This is because unlike in real life you cannot bounce ideas off each other and help your team members out when presenting. A student reports that “Zoom presentations are very hard to prepare, especially in groups where people don't properly divide the work”.
Another problem faced by many students, including Adaline, is the issue of keeping cameras on. While teachers may not see this as a big issue, many students have expressed discomfort with it. Students have reported feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable when forced to keep their cameras on. The main problem is when students are forced to keep their cameras on when either working individually or just listening to the teacher as they feel it is both unnecessary and distracting as they find it awkward to see themselves on Zoom. Many teachers may feel like it is no such issue as you see everyone face to face in person as it is, but the major difference here is that not only are students now in a home environment but since we are online they can see themselves now too.
Finally, another issue faced by students dealing with self-consciousness is speaking on Zoom. Students find it awkward as they talk to their whole class and they find it even more embarrassing when getting answers wrong online since in person there's more collaboration making it seem more natural.
The problem here isn’t the fact that students are unwilling to work and put in the effort. In many scenarios, it is just the fact that they do not feel comfortable with much of the work assigned or the rules given. Students like Adaline are not slackers or unmotivated students, they are students doing their best given current circumstances but are facing stress and pressure from this new system of learning.