The Reality of Online Learning: Students Perspective


Graphic by Tess Bower Photo of FHS via Franklin Living

Tess Bower, Writer

The swarm of kids rushing into school in the morning, the cool seats on the noisy bus, the crowded cafeteria and chattering media center. All sights students have not seen this year. With Hybrid Learning at FHS, some of these norms have taken new shape. The once loud, crowded cafeteria now has students quietly chatting amongst themselves while sitting six feet apart. The swarm of kids rushing into school is now only 1/3rd of the student body, socially distancing themselves while they walk in. Busses are disturbingly quiet and empty, and the media center has signs reading, “Closed before and after school”. To say our beloved FHS has an entirely new atmosphere, would be an understatement. These new norms have been put in place and everyone is continuing to adjust to them. 

Students get to be in the building for one week and then online for two. But what are the two remote weeks like for the students?

Students log into their first remote class at 7:35 AM and will not get offline until 2:10 PM. They have a  25 minute break for lunch, unless it is Wednesday, where they receive a 45 minute extended lunch. Wednesdays are an abnormal day in the FHS schedule, as all teachers and students are home for remote learning. The FHS Administration implemented two asynchronous blocks to help students get off their computers for a little while and work at their own pace. 

To get a better understanding of the students perspective of online learning, Pantherbook created a 10 question survey that was filled out by students from all grade levels and backgrounds. Out of these students, 23% are fully remote, whether they have changed from hybrid to remote, or have always been fully remote. Here are some of the responses we got:

Based on the survey, an overwhelming amount of students believe their mental health has become negatively affected over the course of this school year. The students acknowledged that COVID-19 played a large part in this, but they also feel less motivated than ever for school work and are worried for their mental health. 


Best and Worst Parts of Online Learning

Students across the board agreed that the best part of remote learning is being able to do school in the comfort of their own home. The worst part however, was very different for each response. Most students said that the overwhelming amount of screentime made online learning extremely difficult and made them less motivated. Others said that there were too many distractions at home, or that teachers were not familiar with the new technology. The lack of socialization between friends and peers has been another major issue among the student body. 


When asked the changes they would make to FHSs remote learning, the students gave very valuable feedback. 

A chart from the Homework Guidelines in the FHS Student Handbook (FHS Student Handbook)

More screen breaks and asynchronous work was a popular critique students shared. One student shared that recorded lectures and asynchronous time to complete note sheets could be beneficial. Students also explained that work that could be done off the computer would be a great use of class time. Many students also reported the overwhelming workload they are receiving. On top of long class blocks, teachers are consistently assigning more homework than is able to be done in the time frame outlined in the student handbook. The FHS Student Handbook notes that students should be spending around 20 minutes per class daily on their homework, yet students are reporting that in many classes, teachers are not following these protocols. These protocols exclude any AP courses students may be taking. The additional homework is adding more screen time onto the students already increased daily screen time. 

Students Screen Time Problems

When asked how long students are on their computers before, during, and after school, the responses were devastating. Students reported ranges from 8-13 hours working on their education every day. According to Dr. Nauman and the Newsroom of Healthcare, youth aged 5-17 should be spending no more than 2 hours a day on their screens. (excluding homework) If we exclude homework from the students’ answers, students online from 7:30-2:10 and subtracting a 25 minute break for lunch, the screentime for school alone would be around 6 hours a day online just for schoolwork. Students may find small breaks during the passing time between periods, but nothing that would be of major significance. On top of that, many students’ only form of communication with friends and relatives is online due to COVID. Students are experiencing the damaging effects of too much screen time, with issues such as increased anxiety and depression occurring. One student commented that ¨a lot of kids are struggling and not many have help or know what to do.¨ As a community, FHS tends to pride themselves on the support around their students and the outlets students have if they are feeling discouraged or need help. Despite these views, the harsh and blunt reality of the situation is that too many FHS students are lost and feel they cannot reach out to peers or counselors on serious issues. As a community, FHS has the ability to be the support system for every student, as they wish to be. Students that participated in the survey mentioned that out of all of their classes, very few of the teachers have reached out for feedback or to check in on how their students are doing outside the classroom. This creates a divide in the relationships between students and teachers, on top of the already diminished contact they have. 

In a positive light, students truly appreciate the work teachers are putting in and understand that it is not an easy or ideal situation for anyone. Students reported that they know FHS is trying their best and they believe they are doing an overall decent job in the way they have handled remote learning. It is important to remember that COVID-19 and remote learning is not easy for anybody and feedback is always helpful. 


Thank you to all that participated in the survey and thank you to all those staff and administration members that work every day for the greater good of their students.