Autumn Mayer: Online Learning Beats Hybrid Block

Autumn Mayer, Staff Writer, Journalism I

It was with relief that I heard Notre Dame was transferring to online learning. Finally, a consistent schedule! Of course it was nice to be in the building, but having a different schedule every other day wasn’t working. It was frankly exhausting and frustrating. I woke up every day and had to take a second to figure out whether I had to go to school that day. If I didn’t, I got to sleep in a little longer, and when it was time to zoom into class, I only had to walk from the kitchen to my desk. If I did have to go to school, I had to go through the whole process of getting ready and driving to school, and on top of that I had to wear a mask that made it hard to breathe. There are pros and cons to both in-person and online learning, as we have all discovered over the last few months. From my perspective, online learning is better. Here’s why:

The only good thing about in-person school was getting to see and interact with my teachers. Online learning and quarantine obviously cut down on social time, and I missed talking to people outside of my family on a daily basis. But I really only got to talk to teachers because I never got to see my friends. There was no lunch in the commons, and though advisory was supposed to be a social time, none of my friends were in my advisory group. In class, we had to stay six feet apart and wear masks, which made talking to each other difficult. And that was only if we had classes together in the first place. In general, school was a much more somber affair than in previous years. 

There was also the issue of reduced time. With block scheduling and blue and green cohort days, it was really hard for teachers to plan lessons, and it was harder to finish chapters by the time they would have been finished in a normal year. Teachers had to set up zoom for the kids at home, and attendance took roughly four times longer than normal. It was often necessary to summarize the previous day’s lesson or talk about the plan for the rest of the week, which also took up class time. Because so much time was lost, some teachers ended up assigning more homework. For my calculus class, which has to cover certain topics for the St. Norbert exam at the end of the year, I had to (and still have to) do lessons on days I didn’t even have class. I felt like I was doing more work and learning less. 

Of course, that’s still true now in online learning because we still have a block schedule and haven’t made up for the time lost at the beginning of the year. However, I don’t have to switch back and forth from in-person to online anymore, and everyone is in the class at the same time. This consistency is a relief, and it allows for better learning. The difficulty of not being able to ask questions in person and having to take tests in Google forms is offset by not having to wear a uniform and getting to sleep in longer. I can listen to music between classes and I don’t have to pack a lunch. 

So yes, online learning is hard, but in short, it’s consistent and simple compared to the previous hybrid schedule, and I can enjoy the freedom of being at home.