The Positives of Zoom Classrooms

Photo provided by Fiona Chen.

COVID-19 has forced schools to transition from in person instruction to online learning. This means student life has changed dramatically. Sports, extracurriculars, and academic help are either canceled or limited. A few weeks into quarantine, I’ve heard so many accounts of students wishing to go back, but I can’t help remembering the complaints students had before the transition. I feel as though people are taking online classes for granted and should acknowledge the positives of online learning. 

Before quarantine, people complained about teachers not teaching well, being tired in class, rushing to do classwork, spending too much time doing pointless assignments, barely having enough time to eat, and being uncomfortable with classmates. Asynchronous time exists to do in-class work, but students have also used this time to catch up with their homework and eat whenever, which is more than we got with the twenty-something minutes of Husky Period during a normal school year. Not only that, but most bullying is virtually impossible since the bullies have no way to physically harm you. Although cyberbullying is still an issue, students won’t have to face their bully in person after seeing what happened online, and can disconnect from social media or block them. 

I’ve reached out to a couple of students to see their opinions about online learning. Alvina Zhan, a Washington High School senior, summed up most students’ feelings when she said, “Honestly, I just miss everyone: my teachers, my friends, even the lunch ladies and janitors. It’s crazy how often we take things for granted. I miss walking with friends and scrambling to get to class on time, and I miss being able to engage in small talk with teachers.”.

It’s clear we all miss our friends and nothing can replace in person connection; however, with Zoom classrooms, friends are almost always available online to communicate with and are no longer separated by the constraints of physical classes in different locations around campus. Mihir Phadke, another senior, feels that “it was much easier to ask teachers questions in person since you could ask them at any time during class or after class rather than having to wait until office hours.” I find the opposite to be true in my case, as my teachers allow questions during our Zoom classes as well as during asynchronous periods and office hours. The teaching in Zoom classrooms will never replace physical classrooms, but I think it’s a close replacement and has some very positive benefits. 

Many students, including the very ones that say they don’t like online learning, agree with me on some of these points. “[Online learning] lets me wake up later as I don’t have to actually travel to school,” Nathan Liu, a Washington High sophomore explained. People who live farther from campus and don’t have the luxury of their parents driving them to school might have to wake up very early or take the bus, which can be unreliable, making them late to school. During distance learning, this issue is irrelevant. The same idea applies for how these students get home from school during in person learning: the bus is also inconsistent in arriving after school (it sometimes doesn’t come at all) and people that do need to use the bus have to limit themselves from going to certain extracurriculars which require after school meetings. It also takes money to drive to and from school, and walking or biking is exhausting. As a result of online school, students no longer need to worry about transportation to and from campus, leaving them with more time to sleep. Additionally, the implementation of asynchronous time gives students the opportunity to finish their homework sooner, rather than sit in a classroom, be forced to listen to the teacher, and finally do all the work at home like they would during a normal school year. 

“Honestly, I just miss everyone: my teachers, my friends, even the lunch ladies and janitors. It’s crazy how often we take things for granted. I miss walking with friends and scrambling to get to class on time, and I miss being able to engage in small talk with teachers.”

Along with the transition to online school, extracurriculars are gone and clubs are on Zoom. It is unfortunate, really, but clubs can still teach and communicate with each other. A lot of clubs also weren’t taken seriously in the first place, so it’s not really a change to move online. Clubs like Interact or Key Club host large meetings a few times a month, and the officers usually discuss with each other online beforehand. Sadly, online classes can’t compensate for sports and band, so my condolences on that. 

Many students have noted that because of distance learning, we actually have time for our interests; we can develop ourselves to be more creative and happier students. Mihir Phadke and another senior, Dylan Huang, have been coding more, Alvina Zhan has more time to read, and I myself have been producing more artwork. Online learning may deprive us of physical connection, but it gives us more time for ourselves, to hone our interests and learn more about the outside world. I hope people learn to appreciate the extra time online learning gives them, even when we go back to school in person.

Sandra Than is currently a senior at Washington High School. She was born in San Francisco but has lived in Fremont for most of her life. This is her first time writing for the paper, but she’s very excited to be a part of it. Arts and gaming is what she’s most interested in covering. As expected, Sandra herself indulges in painting and digital art both in school and outside. Through journalism, Sandra hopes to improve her writing skills and get to know more about relevant and important news.

11 thoughts on “The Positives of Zoom Classrooms

  1. Sandra, this is a wonderful article, and you raise many excellent points! However, I’d like to raise a key argument that I feel has not been addressed by many. Though the school bullies are easier to ignore now, students who may struggle with a turbulent home environment are unable to get the help they need now. Many students may now feel sealed off from the rest of the world. I feel the purpose of going somewhere away from home for school was to separate home life and academic life, and the inability to do that now will likely have dire consequences for many students. I have often seen peers interrupted by someone barging in, or a parent loudly speaking in a work call in the background, or even students being unable to connect to Zoom because of Internet issues. Environment is everything, and many students physically cannot find a good working space to foster learning. This is especially troublesome for disadvantaged students, who may live in environments where it is difficult to find a quiet and isolated space with sufficient Internet. This, of course, is unfortunately inevitable. But thankfully, what we both agree on is the beautiful nature of the Internet: it allows us to communicate quickly with others in times of need. I hope your article, as well as expanded awareness of the psychological impacts of online learning for students with unideal home environments, will remind students to check in with their companions frequently!

    1. Most of this article was supposed to cover the positives of Zoom classroom and to appreciate them so far. This does not mean that Zoom classroom is objectively better for everyone to learn. I even put in one of the paragraphs that there was no replacement for activities like band or sports.
      I know there are a lot of cons to online learning like prolonged screen time and uncomfortable environment at home. I cannot give any replacements to that and I do hope like you said, that people will help each other in need and put their health first.

  2. Sandra Than, after reading this article, I am only sad and disappointed. I was under the impression that I spent half an hour being interviewed so that you could gain a better understanding of student views on distance learning but instead, neither I nor anything I said made an appearance in this article. I feel an inadequate amount of representation, which leaves me feeling quite unhappy. I had high hopes for you, Sandra. High hopes. And this is what you give me? Unacceptable. I expect better next time. I’ll be watching.

    1. My regina, I am also extremely disappointed that an honorable voice like yours did not make it into this fine article. And I must include that I am bemoaning the fact that 95% of my interview was not included, and that my counterarguments were all conveniently omitted. I will avenge this disgraceful wrongdoing done to you by challenging the audacious journalist to a duel.
      – Your loyal servus

    2. Unfortunately, I could not make this article too long and wasn’t able to include everyone’s comments. In fact, the opinion’s article section didn’t have to include interviews but I did it anyways so I could get a better understanding on how most students felt about online learning. Although your direct quotes didn’t make it into the article, you did adjust some of my points and personal views on our current learning system.

  3. I appreciate you trying to see the positives of zoom classes but I strongly disagree with you. Students are struggling more mentally now because they don’t have places to go.Even though students don’t have to see their bully’s in person doesn’t mean they aren’t hurt by what they say or do online. Online classes are exhausting physically, emotionally and mentally. Staring at screens all day for school and then for 4+ hours to do homework is going to have severe consequences on students in the future. I personally have noticed I get headaches every day and my eye sight has gotten so much worse since last year. I know some kids are getting less homework but most are getting class work and then additional homework that takes forever to complete. Most students are getting a ton of busy work right now because some teachers don’t know how to teach through zoom. I have also noticed that there have been many complications such as mics not working, cameras not working, internet lagging, etc… I also personally fear that the teachers and some students are getting way to comfortable with this and we aren’t going to get back to normal ever. I know that younger kids are going to struggle as well because they are doing everything through the computer so they don’t have the chance to practice skills such as writing. It is also hard to do school at home if you have siblings. Siblings can be distracting and focusing on just your class is hard.As a senior Im struggling because I really want my last spirit week, homecoming, band season and track season, as well as prom. Class of 2021 hasn’t even had a prom yet and we might not get one.

  4. This is a great article, but as some others have said, the cons outweigh the pros by a landslide. Having to stare at a screen for long periods of time is not good for anyone’s eyes. And even though we have 20-minute breaks between classes, a lot of that is spent trying to get some of your work done so you can enjoy your free time after school. Not to mention the sitting and lack of physical activity students are getting. Even with P.E. or little breaks here and there, I know for me, getting up and playing outside or something does NOT seem appealing. Online school is exhausting, when I’m done with school, I get up and do nothing and then go to bed. This has also caused a whole bunch of unnecessary stress. Teachers are all assigning lots of homework or big assignments too fast. The first two weeks of school were supposed to be the “adjustment weeks. For me at least, those first two weeks were ice breakers. So when we finally jumped into assignments, I was extremely unprepared for the amount of work I had to handle. I just wish they would allow in-person school to go back, at least in a hybrid form. This is so hard and makes things just so much more stressful and difficult.

  5. Sandra Thanos, thanks for spelling my name correctly in the article and actually including the stuff from our interview (haha take that Surabhi). But actually though this is a really good article, so good job!

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