THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-LEARNING
IS ONLINE LEARNING ACTUALLY BENEFICIAL FOR STUDENTS?
April 30th 2020
The importance of self-learning
On March 20th, 2020, the Ministry of Education established a Learning from Home website, providing supplementary learning materials to help elementary and high school students. These resources were not intended to replace learning at school but rather to assist students to learn from home up until April 6th.
However, on April 6th, the Ministry made an announcement postponing the reopening of schools to May 4th. School boards across the province were required to establish online learning plans to help deliver the curriculum to students.
Ontario begins online learning. Schools remain closed until May 31st 2020.
While online learning may seem like a bad idea at first, many people are unaware of the online learning structure as only approximately 5% of students in Ontario have taken a supplementary e-learning course before.
Online learning typically involves interactive online learning sessions via platforms like Zoom or Google Meet. This allows students to be comfortable using technology, which will become increasingly prevalent in the workplace and teaching in the future. Although students are unable to meet face to face with teachers, they can still ask questions and listen to lessons via online platforms. For example, my Calculus teacher currently teaches lessons through Youtube Videos in the exact same way that he taught in person.
Prior to online learning, it was excruciating for him to cater to each person’s needs, and meet his goal of ensuring that “no student is left behind.” For example, some students already learned the course material in advance, while others struggled to grasp prerequisite concepts. However, with online learning, students are able to learn at their own pace. Those who are comfortable with the material can move quickly through the lesson, while students who are struggling are able to re-watch or pause lessons. We also have weekly online chat sessions to interact and ask questions, and are able to email him through Brightspace (an online TDSB learning platform) to communicate.
Students using technology at a local high school.
Furthermore, another benefit of online learning is the opportunistic range of flexibility. Teenagers require 8-9 hours of sleep each night, which is difficult to obtain on school days while balancing a slew of extracurricular activities and other tasks. Studies suggest that teenagers actually get 6.5-7.5 hours of sleep on average. From personal experience, some of my classmates have slept as late as 2:00-4:00am, with many pulling occasional all-nighters. Many complain about them being tired during class or being unable to focus. However, with online learning, you are able to learn through your own schedule and gain a sufficient amount of sleep.
The last benefit of online learning is that it teaches students to become more independent. One concern is that due to the lack of in-person interaction, students will lack motivation to complete their schoolwork. However, the reality is that students have full control over their own decisions. Regardless of how much face to face interaction students get, a teacher can only do so much when it comes to helping a student to understand the importance of learning. Students who choose to skip class and not complete their homework at school are likely the same ones who will struggle with online learning.
One way to motivate students to learn online is to motivate them to learn in general. This can be done by illuminating the act of learning as a privilege rather than a chore. Students should consider the benefits of learning and see the long-term impact of their choices. It might also be impactful for students to watch videos via Youtube or other platforms to hear how others who used to lack motivation to learn overcame this barrier. Students can also discuss reasons why they are lacking the motivation to learn, and discuss a reasonable solution with their family. For example, if a student lacks motivation to learn because they get distracted from their phone easily, then they can put their phone out of sight when studying and take timed breaks.
Online learning offers flexibility for high school students
After high-school, most people attend post-secondary school, which makes online learning an important experience to have. The most important benefit gained from online learning is the ability to learn on your own, which is absolutely crucial for post-secondary school and even in the workplace.
However, despite all the benefits of online learning, I would definitely not recommend taking online learning course as an alternative to a prerequisite day school course. In-person interaction is still important to have and some students may have difficulties learning independently. I do, however, recommend every high school student wishing to attend post-secondary school to take an online course eventually, whether it be in the summer or during the weekend (not necessarily a TDSB one).
Developing self-learning habits will be extremely crucial and beneficial for students in the future, and becoming comfortable with technology is a huge bonus!