A Point Loma High School teacher and one of his pupils discussed distance learning versus in-class learning as the 2020-21 school year is about to begin online-only on Aug. 31.
Both PLHS video production and cinematic film instructor Anthony Palmiotto and junior student Vincent Diana are looking forward to school rebooting. And both agree that going from standard in-class instruction to remote-distance learning takes some getting used to.
“At first it was daunting, but I’m a techy person, so it wasn’t super hard for me,” confided Palmiotto, whose classroom includes a “green room” with film making equipment where his students record Public Service Announcements.
Of the adaptability of students to online learning, Palmiotto said, “These kids live online. Every one of these kids has a smartphone. And every one of those smartphones has an editing program installed on it. So they can do the work. They can figure out how to do this (online learning). And they’re better at it than I am.”
Palmiotto was surprised by how well some students took to online learning. “The silver lining was that some kids, who get easily distracted in my class, did much better when it was just them and their computer, and no distractions,” he said.
Eleventh-grader Vincent Diana discussed the pros and cons of online versus in-class learning.
“Not waking up early every day, being able to learn at your own pace, learning in the comfort of your own living space,” were positives cited by Diana.
Negatives cited by him included, “Not being able to see/collaborate with friends in-person, hard to stay focused and motivated, can be hard to keep up with advanced learning material and new concepts, left to the mercy of your technology, sometimes unable to keep up to date on frequent assignments, and no extracurricular activities like sports.”
Asked to compare the quality of online versus in-class learning, Diana replied, “I feel that there is a big difference in the quality of education in that certain online classes have very rigorous workloads, whereas others require very little from the students. In the more-involved classes, there will most likely be a higher tendency for students to not really comprehend and retain the material as the motivation will shift from understanding to just getting it done.”
Diana likes that “the more flexible schedule offered by online classes allows me to work in more exercise/mental breaks throughout the day allowing me to better concentrate on my studies.”
But Diana misses “being able to see my friends and teachers on a daily basis and creating those lifelong memories obtained through both school and extracurricular activities. Having face-to-face interaction allows you to bounce ideas off of your classmates and teachers, which is absent in the online learning environment.”
Concerning how difficult online learning is to pick up, Diana commented: “Most things that are unfamiliar are difficult but the more we do them, the better we become at them. If you are familiar and well versed with course material, then the online environment will be relatively simple and help enhance your knowledge. If you are struggling to grasp certain concepts, however, then the absence of in-person face-to-face collaboration can prove to be a struggle to both short- and long-term academic success, as it is not as hands-on and can be harder to seek help as well as ask the appropriate questions.”
Diana believes online learning can be improved by “having the option for an individual, in-person Zoom sessions that are not in a group setting to give students the opportunity to ask their personal tough questions and replicate that sense of one-on-one student-teacher interaction. Just like with in-person classes, a student may sometimes not feel comfortable asking a question during a class period, so they’ll seek the teacher out after class or at lunch to get their questions answered and enhance their understanding of the subject, which is why having the option to do that online would be beneficial to us as students.”
Does online learning cause problems/conflicts working from home?
“There are definitely problems/conflicts when working from home,” answered Diana. “The main thing being that you are not in a school environment but rather at home where distractions are abundant.”
Would you rather be in school?
“I never thought I would say this but yes, I would way rather be in school,” concluded Diana.