Ever since the beginning of the new school year, there has been an ongoing debate among the students and the parents on whether the school should follow a completely digital curriculum or continue to follow the hybrid curriculum that separates grade levels according to their designated “on-campus” days. Those who argued for a completely digital curriculum demanded online classes because they were concerned about the possibility of COVID-19 spreading around the school community. People who argued for the continuation of a hybrid curriculum wanted to get the best education out of this pandemic, despite the risk. Even though online classes guarantee safety among faculty members and students, they impose various limitations on the students’ education, which can be only overcome by the equal efforts of students and teachers.
In an online curriculum, students are prone to get off track. Unlike a classroom setting that is built for students to simply learn, a home setting consists of many distracting factors. Even a piece of common furniture like a bed might distract the students from sitting down at their desks. Since there are no supervisors who are physically there to check if the students are paying attention to class, students have more freedom to do whatever they want to. If a student has a video game player on their desk, then they are able to pick it up whenever they want. As the classes require the usage of computers, students can also easily access chatting applications, social media, and computer games during class. Therefore, students are exposed to many distractions that affect their concentration when they take classes at home.
Online classes also make it difficult for students to participate in group activities. Classes like math and language require frequent group work. However, as the students are all separated, the only way to conduct the group work is through creating breakout rooms or separate calls. Not only is this time consuming, but it is less effective than group work done face to face. It is also difficult for students to answer or ask a question because if more than one person speaks, then the audio becomes inaudible. Therefore, students need to either type in their questions in the chat or teachers need to pick on one student to answer the question. This makes it difficult for the class to produce an interactive atmosphere.
Even though these limitations exist in an online classroom, an online curriculum is the best option in an escalating health crisis. The second wave of COVID-19 hit South Korea in August and the government increased the self-isolation level to 2.5, one of the highest so far. Therefore, SIS has announced a full online curriculum until Sept. 20.
Now, it is up to both students and teachers to make the best use of online learning. In order to overcome the limitations presented by online classes, teachers should come up with an adjusted curriculum for online learning. For example, instead of accepting questions in the middle of the lecture, teachers can make a document where students can write down their questions. Teachers can then answer them all at once after the lecture is over. Teachers can also give a short formative quiz on the content they went over that class period. Students, in return, should put an equal amount of investment for all the classes. Even without direct supervision, students should feel a sense of responsibility to make the teachers’ hard work worth it by paying attention to the classes. If students and teachers put an equal amount of effort into online classes, then online learning is going to provide both safety and quality education to the SIS community.