Online learning is fairly current, and after the pandemic it is becoming more and more common. That being said, there is not a lot of data surrounding the negatives and positives of online learning, and a lot of the resources were pandemic based. The term online education is a broad term, whereas it could mean taking one or two classes (supplementary learning) or fully emerged online. Our group, which was the agree side, took it to be fully online and not in a face-to-face setting using supplementary online learning. Secondly, the term detrimental is a very strong word especially encompassing all children. That being said, online learning can be detrimental to social and academic development of some children.
Hang on tight! I have a LOT to say about this topic.
Mental health affects students in both online and in person school settings. As being an online teacher I hear testimonies of students shifting to online learning because they are getting bullied in face-to-face school. Some of these students flourish in an online setting, but others have fear of the continued bullying, and hide behind the screen or simply start to vanish. Other students do not have parent support at home and require the supervision of an adult to keep structured boundaries for them, in this case students start to get into bad habits of spending all day in their bedroom, not socializing, and missing synchronous lesson. Ultimately, these students’ grades start to slide to the point of no return. Furthermore, students start to feel overwhelmed, stressed and feel as if they are in a hole they cannot crawl out of as they do not know where to start. I have dealt with a multitude of students that deal with this. Online learning requires skills that not all students possess and this subsequently puts them in an unfortunate position of helplessness. Conversely, some students no longer have the social anxiety they had while they were in person school, and they thrive online as there mental health is better than it has ever been. These thriving students used to be quiet and shy in the back of a classroom, but now have found their voice online and are flourishing. This is so amazing to see and hear about. There are definite positives for online learning given the right structure, positive work habits, parental support and having the right materials they need to be successful.
As mentioned in the debate it is important to assess students before they fully engage in online learning, as we do not want to set our students up for failure. Parents play a very essential role in online learning. When students are at home all day long by themselves, and required to log onto their meetings independently without good work habits they will not always log in (if ever). That being said, the students that take responsibility and initiative to do their work and attend meetings are cultivating their skills, therefore they will be successful in the online education world and these skills will help them in their future. The parents need to be sure to also pay attention to the students’ marks and attendance, otherwise there is a risk of some falling through the cracks.
Online learning is perfect for students needing the flexibility, especially for busy or traveling families, and students that attend a lot of appointments for health concerns. Other students that need flexibility is for various sports, and online education allows them to travel for sports and maintain their education, for example hockey. Some students get billeted in WCS and play their season out while engaging in asynchronous education, and once they have completed their season they go back to their base schools generally for the second semester.
There are extra supports and activities that are available in face-to-face school that is not available for all students online. Some students that would once have had an EA in face-to-face school struggle to get this support online as well as LST and RTI hours are reduced for all students. There are shop classes and other hand on classes that can be taken in person that are not available online as well as labs that aid in learning. That being said, there are sometimes bridge programs that are allowed, and students can take these classes in addition to electives that are not offered in their own schools. Students are able to take extra curricular classes from the school that they are closest to if they wish.
In some instances, school is a students safe place where they get breakfast/lunch, as well as getting out of their living situations. Not all students have a happy and healthy home-life and this allows students to get out of these toxic atmospheres for a portion of the day. In other instances, students get more time to spend with their parents and feel more comfortable and protected in their own home. The research attests to students being more successful in online learning with affluent families as they may be at home more for support as well as supporting students with their technology needs.
Being an online teacher I see the realities of students from all over the division emerging to online learning. For some, this is the last option for students as they are non-attenders and they are hoping that they will find some success. These students tend to vanish, and this is completely heart breaking. My job is incredibly rewarding, as it is a huge success when you get a student to finally pass a class, start to attend class regularly, or make a connection with a student that was completely shut off from the world. I see both sides of the coin and the students that have good work habits and parent support will succeed online, but it is not for every student. The reality is most students leave in person learning to come to online learning for a few main reasons: mental health reasons (mostly anxiety), health needs, sports, and travel. Regarding these reasons online learning has the flexibility to meet everyone’s needs, however it does not always meet students needs academically. I believe that online learning is detrimental to SOME students regarding their social and academic achievement.