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Online vs. In Person Learning

As we transition into hybrid learning, it can be really odd to see some of your peers online while you’re in-person, but some people actually prefer it that way. After such an unusual year, everyone has had such different experiences. Being online during the past year has been hard for me. Since transitioning in-person, I have seen my grades go up, along with my class participation, and mental health. In person learning has been great for me, and many others, but many people also prefer online. I wanted to see if other students were having the same experience as me so I sent a survey to all students asking whether they prefer online or in-person learning, and the results were surprising.

Some people transitioned to online school, and felt a huge decline in their learning, motivation, and mental health. Being in a bad learning environment at home, being away from their peers and feeling socially isolated, not being able to connect with their teachers, and not being able to bring themselves to work on assignments, has made learning, and living in this pandemic exhausting. On the other hand, there are some people that are thriving in online school. The ability to be in the comfort of their own home has been very beneficial for their learning. Some people that have social anxiety are finding it easier to be at home, without the pressure of being with people at school. And as we transition into hybrid, our comfort level is a big part of the daily decision to go in-person or stay at home. 

Many people that have enjoyed coming in-person recently like it because they find it easier to focus and actually learn the material, rather than just laying in bed with their computer’s volume down. A lot of students also have loved connecting with their teachers in-person and have said it makes engaging in class so much easier. One of the most common responses I got was how much students love seeing their friends in-person. After a year of isolation from many of their peers, being in-person is very exciting, and definitely helps people attend their classes more. 

I got one response saying how it sometimes feels isolating to be online. In many of their classes, this student said they were the only person on zoom, which can feel unnatural and cut off from the rest of their classmates. This brings up the divide that the transition to in-person classes has created. When teachers are in-person, they are obviously going to be inadvertently more focused on the people in front of them in class than the people online. Many times, students can’t even hear what’s being said in the in-person class. While teachers try to keep both in-person and online students engaged, it can be very hard on the teachers, and on the students’ education. 

While most people I have talked to think they can participate better in-person, for some, online is a better option. Some responses I have gotten are talking about how they can focus better online. While most people say focusing is way harder online, for some of our brains, being alone and calm is better for our learning and focus. They can have all of their supplies, not having to be under stress if they forget materials. Some people have also said that in-person school is not worth it for them. A lot of students only have a couple teachers that teach in-person, so they don’t find much use for going into school. 

One of the most popular responses I got was about how people really value social interaction at school, but I think this goes deeper than just the only reason they like school is to see their friends. I have noticed that a lot of people that find in-person learning better because they can see their friends, have also had a huge rise in their grades, and I think these are directly related. For most people, spending time with their friends makes them happier, which has a direct correlation with academic success. A Harvard study scientifically proved that happiness leads to success in learning. Whether it leads to better motivation, learning strategies, focus, comfort, or even just better mood, it affects people’s learning dramatically.  

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