Blog: Virtual Learning


Tabitha Parent

Students in B period IB Global Politics Year 1 gather for an online Zoom conference call in their respective rooms. Students are attending class periods and meeting with teachers on Zoom while also using other online tools like the LMS and Kahoot to enhance their new online learning experience.

Tabitha Parent, Senior Reporter

WEB EXCLUSIVE My addiction to my phone, while equally impressive and terrifying, is not an indicator of how much I actually enjoy technology. If I’m being honest, I don’t enjoy my phone as much as my mom probably thinks I do. I tend to get overly frustrated, and my troubleshooting methods primarily include me throwing my phone at the wall across the room. 

Needless to say, I was not excited to take class online using Zoom conferencing. For starters, the WiFi in my room is subpar. Despite my cute hexagonal Xfinity xFi Pod that I have plugged in right next to my desk, the FaceTiming/video chatting conditions are still nowhere near optimal. Secondly, my eyes get very dry when I stare at a screen for long periods, so I knew that the eye drops bottles that I keep in my desk were going to be used up within days. Finally, the last thing that I needed was another excuse to further fuel my phone addiction.  

So when our first day of classes rolled around, inwardly, I was not optimistic, but I tried to keep it positive on the outside because we all know that tons of people have it much worse right now—without naming any specific world issues.

My first class was Theory of Knowledge. I arranged myself on my white desk chair that I had reinforced with blankets and pillows and settled in with my mug of chai tea. The class started with surprising ease. I was able to join relatively quickly and my audio worked, which was a first considering my room’s typically shoddy internet connection. 

It was startling the familiarity that I felt when I joined the classroom. Mr. PL was there in all his fashionable glory. I tried to imagine him wearing the iconic coat with the furry hood that had become a common part of his wardrobe before the school moved from campus schooling to online classes.  All of my classmates were there too (on time, I might add) in their respective bedrooms and kitchens. I will be honest I spent a lot of time staring at their home settings during that first lesson; it was pretty fascinating. 

We picked up right where we left off with discussions about the meaning of art and watching the documentary. I appreciated the norm that Mr. PL was trying to maintain. I appreciated the check-ins and meditation. I hadn’t taken a lot of time to do that, despite all the new free time I had suddenly found myself with. 

I was also pleasantly surprised by my IB HL Global Politics class. The atmosphere was right there. It was like I had just walked into Room 101 on the Pine/Octavia campus. Virtually nothing had changed. One of my classmates figured out how to play a full nature documentary as his virtual background so I spent a lot of class trying to ignore the cheetah that was seemingly running at my screen. 

Despite my “lunchroom” being a mere 11 steps from my “classroom” (I counted) I find it hard to have enough time to eat within the time we’ve been given. This could also do with the fact that I make at least three lunches per day and eating that much food tends to take up just a lot a bit of time. 

My English class is the same. It’s right after lunch and we aren’t usually allowed to eat in class when we’re on campus, but exceptions have been made this time around. It’s all part of the new normal. 

Art class is crazy. A lot of us were wondering how on earth we were going to be able to paint masterpieces when the only set of paints that most of us own are from our third grade Crayola art kit. We’ve managed to move away from the paints and glue and palette knives and are now working with a lot of photography and environmental art. We’re working with what we’ve got. My latest piece is somewhat performative and involves the personification of my dirty laundry. Quarantine brings out the creativity in us.

While I was right about my eyedrops being used up so quickly, I’m glad that we have such committed and focused teachers who are really trying to work with this wacky situation that we are in. Many of them share the “technology break” sentiment and will let us get up to stretch and take a walk during class. 

Despite my horrible Wifi connection that sometimes kicks me out of my classes, I haven’t hit many huge roadblocks, but there’s always still time to discover them. So far, though, things are running about as smoothly as can be expected, but there’s still a ways to go in getting used to this new normal. 

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