Is virtual learning the future?

Half the Journalism seminar in a virtual meeting on April 15, 2020 – screenshot by Mr. Thomas Stambaugh

The coronavirus crisis poses serious health and financial questions across America, but also educational questions. 

Will virtual school be the future of our educational system? 

With the coronavirus currently influencing how schools around the world educate students, virtual learning offers strengths and weaknesses. 

An online education eliminates the need to travel. This allows students and teachers who live further away to get more sleep, which can enhance health and productivity. It is also much cheaper than traditional school. Institutions like Haverford would not charge the amount they do if everything was done online. Which raises the question: why is this not appealing to students and faculty members? 

“One of the biggest struggles in my classes so far has been being able to let every student participate.”

Math teacher Mr. Matt Ator

While an online education can have its appealing positives, many community members feel that traditional learning will always be the most successful form of education. 

“I can’t see classes going fully online if it is not completely necessary,” math teacher Mr. Matt Ator said. “One of the biggest struggles in my classes so far has been being able to let every student participate.” 

Virtually, teachers are not able to take part in meaningful discussions with students. Students often find it beneficial to meet with teachers one on one, and discuss topics related or unrelated to class. This helps build essential interpersonal relationships that lead to stronger bonds inside and outside the classroom. 

“I think this is one of the most difficult things to translate to online teaching. We can still reach out to students and let them know we’re there, but so much of relational teaching is spontaneous and requires face-to-face interaction,” Spanish teacher Mrs. Catherine Schroeder said.

Michael Barr in a virtual class on April 15, 2020 – photo courtesy of Michael Barr ’20

Participating in online class can lead to more students losing focus. Teachers are not physically present, so some students feel they can get away with certain things effortlessly. 

Sixth former Michael Barr said, “Paying attention during class is a challenge for me personally. It is easier to look at my phone and not get caught. Also, with each class being an hour long, it is easy to get bored.” 

Individuals in the Haverford community are not the only ones who find virtual learning less effective.

Agnes Irwin senior Natalie Pansini said, “I have to be on my computer for four to five hours a day, which doesn’t include homework, while losing the ability to interact with friends.” 

Although our society is becoming more and more built around the benefits that technology gives us, virtual learning may only be in effect for the time being.

Author: Patrick Toal '20

Pat Toal '20 is a student in the Journalism seminar. He is interested in sports and politics. His favorite subjects are English and history. He will be playing Division-I baseball at La Salle University next year.