UHS News Examines the Pros & Cons of Distance Learning


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The Positives of Distance Learning

By Kaycee Bushby

Two weeks into March, Ukiah Unified Schools were closed due to the global pandemic.  In this case, students and teachers had to move to online distance learning in all grades. Since the online learning was a late notice, most teachers were not prepared to transition to distance learning. Now that a new school year has begun, all teachers are prepared for their students to learn online. UHS News wants to highlight some of the positive aspects of distance learnin

  1. Self-pacing
    • Distance learning is a great because many students are able to pace themselves in approaching their school work. In a normal school day on campus, students have different classes throughout the day, which makes students hustle throughout their classes and that is stressful. At home, students have all the time throughout their day to get their schoolwork done and be comfortable in their own space without being disturbed. 
  1. Saving money
    • Due to online classes, it’s cheaper for students as well. Depending on the classes, students spend money on books, paper, pencils, etc. Now that our classes are online, students will only spend less money money on paper and pencils, because there are lots of other useful resources online. Most schools will even help provide students with supplies.
  1. Socially distanced
    • Zoom and Google Meet, are very useful for students of all grade because both students and teachers don’t necessarily need to be face to face in person to learn effectively. For students that are introverted and prefer and more isolated form of learning, distance learning is a positive experience.
  1. Online resources
    • Teachers and students are getting productive exposure to many online resource they would not have without distance learning.. Schools in Ukiah use Google Classroom for teachers to post online to show students their activities for the day and give students online homework assignments as well. Students and teachers use Zoom as well to talk to each other digitally. These products will be useful to utilize in both college and the working world
  1. Safer in shelter 
    • Not only safer sheltering in home from COVID-19, but you’re safer at home because years over the world there have been threats and actual school shootings that caused some lives to be taken. Not only school shootings but there aren’t any fights on school grounds between any students. 

The Cons of Distance Learning

By Abby Kirkley

This year Ukiah High School has fully moved to distance learning because of increasing risks of COVID-19 in Ukiah and Mendocino County. While this learning from home decreases student’s and faculty’s chance of coming into contact with COVID-19, an entirely new set of challenges comes along with online school. From technical issues and navigating through online resources, to the mental stress of isolation, there are many cons of distance learning.

  1. Technical Difficulties
    • With most schools in the U.S. moving online this year, platforms such as Zoom and Google Meets are being used more than ever. As to be expected, the sites cannot always hold that many people online at one time. Katie Williams’ Article on the Zoom crash that happened last Monday explains this. Additionally, many technical problems occur for individual students because of unstable WiFi connection. These technical difficulties add another layer of problems to the already challenging task of learning and teaching online.  
  1. Isolation
    • Learning in school is not only about memorizing and being able to iterate facts. In most cases, to be able to learn information effectively, there needs to be a connection between the teacher and students. Losing this connection by moving online makes retaining and learning any information another of many barriers. Isolation from friends and even family also plays an important role. Humans need connection and to be deprived of it for long periods of time, as we have been, can negatively affect our mental health. Socialization is a part of school, with teachers of course, but especially with friends, and cutting that crucial part out makes students not care, or want to try because there is no ‘enjoyable’ or ‘fun’ part of school left.
  1. Motivation
    • In college, students learn to be self-sufficient, to manage their own time, and figure out what they need to do. High school, and even middle school, students have had to do this for themselves. For most students, their parents are working and they don’t have anyone, as they would in school, making them do their work or go to class. Like I previously mentioned, the lack of socialization takes away a large portion of enjoyment in school, so without that, there is nothing driving them or making them want to go to school. 
  1. Distraction
    • Homelife is different for everyone, and therefore different challenges are presented for everyone. Some have younger siblings they have to take care of or help, others have loud and hard to workspaces, both make participating and learning in class challenging. There are also distractions that come online, other than students being able to check out because of the ability to mute and turn off your camera; Zoom bombers have made an appearance in many classrooms. Hackers, or other students, get the classroom Zoom code, put their name as someone in the class so they’re admitted, and join the call with vulgar backgrounds and inappropriate sounds. Some of these distractions are inevitable, so teachers need to keep in mind that not all students can be completely present in class like they would at physical school because home life is different and everyone has to adjust to the new circumstances.
  1. Screen Time
    • Teachers this year must spend a minimum of fifteen minutes on a Zoom call with their students. Some teachers spend the entire hour and a half lecturing or teaching on Zoom, and others have a quick call and then assign independent work, on the computer of course. Regardless of which one is used, most students are spending six hours on the computer just for school, plus additional time for homework. Social media also being one of the only ways people can socialize, when work is done, we go right back to our phones. This much time looking at a screen strains our eyes, can give awful headaches, and fatigue, it is extremely unhealthy. 

Distance learning is necessary this year to keep the majority of staff and students safe, but it doesn’t come without problems of its own. There are many issues with learning from home that need to be taken into consideration in order to improve it, but, overall, the benefits of keeping us healthy outweigh the inconveniences. 

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