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Remote Learning: How Effective is it in K-12?

It has been about a year since most of us were excited to get a two-week spring break and then went straight into virtual learning. For most of us college students, the idea of not having to wake up for that 8 a.m. in-person lecture sounded great, but that was not the case for everyone. From the media, and my own household, it has become clear that K-12 is struggling in the time of online school. Of course, students are having a hard time, but they are not the only ones; teachers and parents are just as stressed in this strange time. 

The main topic of conversation when it comes to remote learning is the students. Many have had discussions on if online schooling is effective for these. And to me? I would say it depends on the person. Every student learns differently, and online learning is not effective for everyone. Some learn from open-note tests, and others just use control + F to find every answer and don’t pay attention to the material. Some can learn by teaching themselves and others need someone to explain it to them.

One of the big hardships that come with online school is being able to have the discipline and time management to keep up with the work; skills you mostly learn in college. In high school, time management skills are arguably less important, due to having the same courses every day. With school now online, most students do not have the option to attend Zoom calls due to circumstance or may not be offered that at all. Due to that, they have to develop time management and discipline skills almost immediately to do well in their courses. 

Journal in front of laptop
Photo by Nick Morrison from Unsplash

As for younger students in primary or elementary school, they have to be supervised as they do their work, which is something that can set the student behind due to busy parents or other circumstances. This is something that happened in my household. The youngest in my house is in the first grade, so my mom has to almost be his teacher for him. While the teachers do provide asynchronous videos to watch, my mom has to be there behind him to make sure he is not getting distracted or to help guide him through assignments. This means that my mom has to work a 9-5 job every day, be a first-grade teacher and a mom. This has been hard on her, and I know it has to be for a lot of other parents out there. I can only imagine the hardships of single parents with young children right now or those that cannot afford Wi-Fi and have to go to a secondary location to do school. There are so many instances where life gets in the way and it is hard for parents to keep up with the seven hours of schoolwork students have to complete every day, especially when you are a parent helping them after your 9-5 job. 

student studying for school
Photo by Green Chameleon from Unsplash

Another thing that is hindering students from being able to get the most out of their education is the decline of mental health. Most students are now spending all of their time indoors and confined to their room. Without being able to socialize as normal and the dramatic change in their lifestyle, many have experienced a decline in their mental health. This factor makes it harder for students to have the motivation to do their schoolwork every day. Schools can combat this by offering mental health programs for counselors to go to via Zoom. This way students can have someone to talk to about how to help make things easier and more bearable.

Most schools are trying their best in these difficult times, but no matter how good the virtual education is or how hard teachers are trying, virtual learning does not work for everyone. Almost every individual has a different learning style, and sadly, online school can not cater to all of them. But most importantly, it is good that schools are making it a priority to keep students safe during this time. As of right now, all we can hope for is everything can go back to normal by next fall to be able to be in-person learning once again.


Kate Renz

Virginia Tech '22

Public relations major minoring in cinema. In my free time, I love to spend time with friends and watch movies!
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