Online schooling: a reflection

As the first semester comes to a close, LSHS reflect on the effectiveness of online learning.


Rachel Howard

The empty halls of Lake Stevens High School. LSHS has been without students since the initial school shutdown last March.

Last March, LSHS students were presented with an enormous challenge: online learning. COVID-19 forced teachers, students, and administrators to quickly adapt to a new way of schooling, with varying degrees of success. 

Sophomore Lauren Gruble says that “last year online school was wild, most teachers either made the classes too easy, or too hard.”

Junior Natalie Anderson agreed. “It was hard to adjust and get used to doing school online, and balance doing my schoolwork against getting distracted. Most of my teachers were also trying to figure out how to effectively teach math or a language outside of the classroom as well.”

Sophomore Hilary DeFrang felt that last year’s online schooling went badly for a multitude of reasons. She said that she “felt very overwhelmed by six classes full of work and deadlines,” and that she “had no easy means of in-person communication and had to email for help.”

Despite the many faults of distance learning last year, it wasn’t all terrible. Junior Mckenzie Mcleod said that, even though she didn’t think she learned much as she could have, she appreciated how  “hard my teachers worked to do the best they could to teach the material under the changing circumstances.” Although, she did say that it was “harder to have engaged discussions.” 

Even with the innovations and tweaks teachers and administrators have made to online schooling since last June, it’s still causing difficulties in the students’ learning. 

Anderson says, “It’s harder to stay undistracted, harder to be in charge of my own scheduling, and harder to keep track of which assignments are supposed to get turned in where.”

DeFrang says that online learning “has taken away a lot of my ambition to get work done. Being away from a very social and cooperative environment has taken a toll on how I learn and work on my material.” 

Junior Mckenzie Mcleod agrees with DeFrang, adding that when she “used to be in a classroom of students learning, it was much easier to stay focused and it was more fun for me. But now I do most of the school work alone, so the quality of learning is not as good.”

Students are also expressing their nervousness about the curriculum, with many commenting that the less in-depth curriculum could bring problems in the future. 

Junior Ghett Hardwick says that he feels like he’s “just doing the work and not really learning anything.”

Students have found that there are positive and enjoyable aspects of online learning as well.

“There are some aspects of online learning I do enjoy; those being, the time provided to students for homework and flexible late work policies. I also appreciate that my teachers are quick to respond to emails and stay online for any in-person questions I might have.” Says DeFrang. 

Mcleod says that she likes that she “can wake up at a much more reasonable time every day, eat whenever I’m hungry without having to ask for permission or wait until lunch, and I don’t have to always be on the go from place to place constantly.”

There is another feature of online learning that has been surprisingly helpful for students as well. 

Junior Ghett Hardwick says that, “The three class system is great. I don’t think I would be doing as well as I am if I had more classes. Three is probably the most I could handle with all that is going on in the world.”

While the three class system remains popular, students do have concerns about how it might impact their learning in subsequent years. 

Mcleod says that she’s worried about her future classes, “because my teachers have said that they had to take some things out of their curriculum for this school year because of the condensed amount of time we have.”

“I am learning just the bare minimum to allow me to do the work, and once the work is done the information just leaves my brain.” Says Hardwick. 

There have been various struggles with online schooling, and those extend beyond the content. Many students have found difficulties with live instruction as well. 

Gruble says that “it seems not all the teachers were doing things that the administration told them to, (like the learning pathways or daily attendance) and it made it harder.” 

Mcleod agrees. “I lose valuable time during the school day to complete assignments, so it causes me to have homework that quickly piles up. Some days I won’t finish homework until about 7 or 8 pm because of the long meetings interrupting my work time. If there could be a way to have less class meetings, or perhaps better time-management during those meetings, I would greatly appreciate it.” She says. 

Senior Madisen Cordell is advocating for an improved reward system, explaining that “in person classes offer a lot more feedback and compliments from teachers or even just getting a smiley face back on your paper. I didn’t realize how much I looked forward to things until now that I only see my google classroom assignments returned and that’s all the feedback that I will get sometimes. “ 

However, despite the struggles students have endured with distance schooling, there are a few learning techniques that students found very helpful and are interested in implementing them when schools eventually get back to normal. 

Mcleod says that she really enjoys the three class schedule.“It’d be great if we implemented that into in-person school in the future. It’s much easier for me to keep the work straight in my head, since there’s not as much going on. Having six classes in the past was honestly really stressful at times. Even if we didn’t completely go by the same schedule once school goes back to normal, it’d be nice to have six total classes, but only three classes a day, and take turns so there can be longer class periods with more quality discussions and engagement.” She is also a fan of the “lesson drops.” She says that it’s “also nice because I can work ahead if I know I’ll be too busy to work on it later in the week.”

Hardwick enjoys being able to sleep in because of the later start time, saying that it “really helps me focus on school, and also gives me time to focus on other things.”

There are various positive and negative characteristics of distance learning, but the students agree on one thing: everyone is eager to safely get back into the classrooms.