Digital Learning Life: Effects on Students, Teachers

By Summer Carrier

Staff Writer

How people, students and teachers alike, are adapting to the technology required for online public education varies greatly.

There have been significant issues for students, including technical frustrations.

 “I’ve had work get deleted multiple times on Teams… it’s also bothersome to check in with eight different teachers every day,” said Brooks Davenport, a junior in Technical Theatre.

For others, it’s interruptions in routine.

“Sometimes I forget to eat,” said Katelyn Street, a Visual Arts junior. “It sounds silly, but when you’re focused on finishing tasks you don’t have time to focus on the clock. Of course, I’m also missing out on my daily routines and seeing my friends in real life.”

Teachers, too, have been feeling the strain that thisnew, digital school experience has caused, both in their school and home life.

The thing I hate is that we are not physically together. I get so much energy from my students,” said Alison Swartz, history teacher. “Sometimes when I am doing the LIVE (video call) it feels like I am talking to the wall since I can’t see you.”

That lack of in-person connection along with a multitude of other factors can affect student participation.

“Only 5 to 15 percent of students are showing up for the virtual class. And very few were watching the posted videos,” said Zachary Pickering, math teacher. “Not being required to be present is causing a serious decrease in student engagement.”

Neither Pickering nor Swartz said that they found they had more free time because of Teams and virtual school. Swartz because she is a graduate student in addition to full-time teaching. Pickering because he is juggling a full-time job as a math teacher and caring for his children, who must learn at home since schools and childcare services are closed.

Of course, plenty of students still have very busy days as well. Children of doctors, those with younger siblings, or those under any number of limiting circumstances. But for the students with some extra free time there’s a bright side to this.

“I’m able to exercise or relax between assignments if I need and I still have a lot more free time for other activities,” Davenport said. “I’m able to draw a lot more. I took a drawing class freshman year where we did drawings in perspective and I’m just now getting back into that. The only thing holding me back before was my schedule.”

Other students, like Street, relax by watching TV and lounging around home, or enjoying the outdoors.

Many students have also found something they lose a lot of between August and May.

“I sleep in two hours later than I did during traditional school, my stress levels are lower than they’ve been in years, and my mental health as a whole has seen improvement,” said Rori Links, a sophomore in Cinematic Arts. “I greatly miss DA, my friends, teachers, and the school’s atmosphere, but I can’t overlook the ways this situation has benefited me both as an artist and human being.”

Even Pickering, who hasn’t had free time since before he had kids, said that he appreciates getting to spend more time with his family.

So no matter how this world health event has personally impacted our time, it has forced us all – students, teachers and society – to slow down.

“We need to be patient with ourselves,” Swartz said. “We are going through a major world event that is having deathly consequences. We are scared and anxious. We need to breathe, walk outside, talk about our anxieties, and sleep.”

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