How online learning can affect social interaction between students

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Student in Zoom class while at home. (Photo Courtesy of: Megan Robinson)

Megan Robinson

With the current coronavirus pandemic, numerous students are discovering that school is not only important to just learn, but it is also necessary for social interaction, which clarifies why various understudies report missing face-to-face cooperation with their peers and teachers. For certain students, this absence of social collaboration can start sentiments of seclusion. Not having enough communication with educators and friends is among the greatest difficulties of examining on the web and passing their courses.

The social part of learning does not vanish altogether in online school courses. It just changes. For instance, students still have to answer questions and join breakout rooms with fellow peers. However, breakout rooms don’t appear to be all that helpful for making “social interaction.” Baylin Polite, a ninth-grader at Don Lugo, says, “I don’t really get many opportunities to talk to classmates on zoom. Some teachers put us into a breakout room to work on assignments but not many people talk, and you can’t really make a connection. They also feel forced.” Polite also said she found being unable to private message to other students disappointing.

There appears to be exceptions when it comes to wanting to put in the effort to connect. Often social anxiety comes into play when talking to new people, and just even the motivation to turn on the camera and talk with your peers can cause reluctance. Makena Encarnacion, also a ninth-grader at Don Lugo, believes that breakout rooms are somewhat helpful. “It really is a hit or miss situation. Breakout rooms for the most part do help me interact with my peers in English as when placed in them my classmates usually help each other out with our papers by giving valuable tips. On the other hand, in a different breakout room, I was placed into an awkward room. Everyone had their camera’s off except for me, and no one barely said anything.”

The students reported finding ways to talk to each other was also difficult, but clubs have helped with interaction. Encarnacion joined Don Lugo’s Hearts and Hero’s Club and found it a place in which she could chat and connect with classmates. As an ASB officer too, she got to contact her other officers by text outside of class. However, the several students interviewed could not come up with adequate ways to solve their social life crisis, the only suggestion is turning on your camera and mic in a meeting or room, saying that “it would make one of our only sources of interaction a lot more memorable.”

For many students, building lasting relationships with their peers has been very difficult. Baylin Polite also inputs, “ The only experience I’ve had this year in which I felt I got to know my classmates was actually in the class chat.” Typically, teachers just use the zoom chat bar to give links to presentations or to answer questions. “I like typing in the chat better than breakout rooms, I think that some people would feel the same way because we may feel nervous or pressured to talk. The chat is personally more fun for me.”

We all know this year is going to test everyone’s limit and endurance in class when learning, that is why it’s important to adapt to the situation sooner than later. As the school year progresses, many teachers hope students have more opportunities to befriend and learn about their peers in a virtual environment.