Digital learning is a topic that I have become quite familiar with over the past year. The pandemic has forced many of us to access our learning, and each other, online–whether synchronous (at the same time) or asynchronous (individually).  Today in class, my peers and I compiled a list of the positives and negatives of online or digital learning–here is what we came up with.

Positives: 

  • We can all type at once (shared docs)
  • No commute
  • More homework and personal time
  • Wearing pajamas and doing class in bed (one of my personal faves!)
  • Not taking the bus
  • You can multi-task, a lot more things on the go
  • Lectures can be recorded a lot easier, discussions are saved
  • Notes are accessible online
  • Ability to multitask during class
  • Less gas money
  • More sleep
  • Don’t have to worry about forgetting things at home
  • We get to meet people’s pets!
  • Closed captioning on zoom calls
  • Being able to have people’s names and pronouns right there in case you forget

Negatives:

  • Tired bodies and eyes from too much screen time
  • Lack of ability to study with/connect with classmates
  • When internet is down, no accessibility to class
  • Hurts looking at a screen all day
  • I feel like I am way less active and do not get the fresh air I need
  • More home distractions
  • Hard to do homework after already sitting at the desk all day 
  • Tech can really be a pain and not always work when you need it/want it too
  • Get tired easily
  • Back pain 
  • No resources for more hands-on classes (music, art, physical ed, tech, drama)
  • Headaches (from the screen)
  • Difficult to connect with profs

This list comes as no surprise to me. I have experienced all of these highs and lows of online learning. It really makes me wary of moving to full-time, face-to-face learning, in the Fall. Although there are many benefits, particularly social, to the pre-pandemic model of learning, there are also so many drawbacks.

For myself, the commute is a killer. I have to get 4 kids up and ready, to drive them to 3 different locations across the city, before I can start my school day. When this is the case in the Fall, I will severely miss the days of zoom classes in my pajamas. On the flipside, being able to work on assignments and discussions in person with my peers will be such a beautiful change to the isolation we have all been experiencing since the beginning of the pandemic. How can we reap the rewards of both styles of learning? 

Blended/Hybrid Learning

This year of online learning, with the prospect of in person learning in the Fall, has me advocating for blended or hybrid learning. There are so many accessible benefits to digital learning, and so many social benefits to in-person learning–combining the two has become a reality for many since the pandemic hit but I hope that it can continue in some form, moving forward in post pandemic times. 

Here is a Tedx Talk from a woman named Monique Markoff, discussing the many benefits of blended learning. The video was made in 2014, well before the pandemic forced many of us into this model, but the way in which she talks about blended learning is still applicable. She talks about how flexibility, commitment, mindset, and the role of the teacher are integral to blended learning and the fact that it is the future of education (oh man, she had no idea of things to come). My experiences with digital learning are opening my eyes on how I can optimize my future student’s learning through a blended model.