Tales of a Virtual Student: Lydia Laporte

Although some, if not most students did not particularly enjoy virtual school as it was last year, a few liked the change in pace. One of those students is Sophomore Lydia Laporte.

Laporte focused on all the benefits of having less structure and a touch and go style of both teaching and learning that came to define the end of last school year for PHS (namely more free time)

“I enjoyed virtual school last year,” Laporte said. “I liked that teachers let us off early, although I think they did that because they weren’t sure what to do with our class times.”

This is one of the major observations students made about virtual school last year. With such little time to get any substantial form of a virtual curriculum established, teachers let students do a lot of work unsupervised. Even the time dedicated to zoom calls was brief in most classes.

But a lot has changed since March of 2020 and this year, PHS was prepared. Not only did teachers take time to tweak lessons so that they could be both taught virtually and in person to accommodate the hybrid format, but the school started enforcing virtual guidelines such as requiring students to have their cameras on and attend longer zoom meetings.

“I like how organized virtual school is, and how every day is a schedule so we can plan ahead,” Laporte said. “Teachers feel more comfortable and have better setups so it makes it easier to learn virtually.”

While the current school year makes up for the lack of organization and scheduling of the last school year, it takes away the one thing many students appreciated about virtual school last year: the abundance of free time.

“I dislike how some teachers lecture the whole hour as it’s just too hard to sit and listen through a screen everyday,” Laporte said. Many students share the same sentiment. The average virtual student spends about 4-5 hours a school day on a screen, not including the time they spend on homework.

This is draining, and definitely not healthy. But at the present time, there really isn’t a solution to this problem as virtual learning is the only known effective and safe way for students to learn during the pandemic.

So which is better? A more independent virtual learning experience that gives the student a lot of free time, but a lot of responsibility to motivate themselves. Or a more structured virtual learning experience with less free time, but more of a sense of normalcy?

“I feel like teachers were more lenient last year compared to this year. My assignments weren’t as heavy and my homework load was less,” Laporte said. “But overall, everyone’s getting by (this year) and having the in person days really helps. It’s more organized this year and the teachers have a better structure for each class.”

It’s tough to say which is better for students, and the issue is fairly split. It seems to really depend on the type of student you are.

The more independent and self-motivated students seem to prefer last year’s version of virtual learning because they were able to work without the constant guidance of a teacher or a traditional classroom. The students that rely on the support and guidance of teachers and other students to help them learn seem to prefer this school year’s version of virtual learning as it gives them opportunities to ask questions and at least have the illusion of a normal school year.

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