Distance Learning 2020: Maui Students Share Their Experiences.

Recently I interviewed four students- two high school aged and two college students about their experiences with virtual learning and how it has …
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Since March, virtual learning has been implemented across Maui county as well as the rest of the world due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Teachers and administration have had to plan and work from school or home while most students must stay home and work from a device. Spring sports and extracurricular activities were lost and family dynamics have significantly changed. Unemployment has skyrocketed and parents have become the teachers. These circumstances have created a sense of chaos. Recently I interviewed four students- two high school aged and two college students about their experiences with virtual learning and how it has affected their current lives.

(Elizabeth Bautista, a sophomore at Maui High School.) Photo By Britney Bautista

First Elizabeth Bautista, a sophomore at Maui High School says,‘’I would say don’t procrastinate and always know what work is due and stay organized with all your classes. Also, if you are having a hard time contact your teacher for help.’’ She is currently taking seven classes but fives classes per day, and spends 42 hours a week doing homework and attending classes virtually. She was very active before the pandemic, her hula lessons switched to virtual and her soccer practices only recently got approved to resume. Elizabeth determined that the pros for virtual learning are as follows. She can make her own food when she wants and work ahead on her google classroom assignments. The cons are lack of face-to-face assistance especially when learning about math and getting distracted easily. Ultimately virtual learning hasn’t been effective for her because she feels like she is not learning as much compared to being in the classroom. She feels like shes teaching herself and is balancing her mental health by going out of the house and doing things that are relaxing. She wonders why teachers seem to be assigning more work and not being empathetic about the long hours spent sitting at the computer all day watching videos, taking notes, doing class work, and spending extra hours on the computer for homework. The transition for her teachers was difficult because her teachers didn’t know how to use their computers and screen sharing. Overall, distance learning wasn’t an easy adjustment.

(High school Senior Azure Quitevis) Photo By Britney Bautista

“Stay positive, take it one day at a time, and know we are all in this together.” Maui high school senior Azure Quitevis affirms. She is currently taking six classes on the computer from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM everyday. Pre-pandemic life was filled with activity in multiple sports like wrestling and judo. She feels a pro for virtual learning is becoming independent. A negative for seniors in high school is not having a normal school year filled with senior events and traditions. She is balancing her mental health by posting positive affirmations on social media which helped people around her. The transition was difficult because it is harder to get students to participate since its in a virtual classroom and while she is outgoing and speaking on camera isn’t a problem, some of her peers turn their cameras on and speak minimally.

Photo By Britney Bautista

Last to be interviewed was Dexter Corpuz who graduated in 2020 from UHMC and transferred to West Oahu to get his bachelor degree in Creative Media.

‘’Do not overwork yourself. It is very easy to get caught in the idea of needing to always get things done but it’s also important to take some time for yourself whether it be by going outside or doing breathing exercises.’’ says sophomore, Jayden Hedani who attends Washington University. Born and raised on Maui, Jayden is currently taking four classes but originally registered for 5 and spends an estimated 15-20 hours a week for school and homework. He has been involved in clubs at school that switched to virtual meetings when the COVID-10 pandemic forced schools to close down. He likes that virtual learning is done on your own time and it gives a sense of flexibility to do homework. He struggles with a time difference for students who aren’t living in the state or on campus and less resources since we are learning at home. Virtual learning is not as effective because we as students are not getting the most out of our college experiences from home. Jayden feels that virtual learning limits our ability to gain knowledge that we would have experienced in a physical setting. He is balances his mental health by meditating, spending time away from the phone and doing other activities including working out or journaling. With using zoom for live classes and panopto for recorded lectures, teachers can be more flexible with due dates which should be implemented. Overall, This was an easy transition for him.

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‘’Take it slow and easy, try not to over cramp yourself with this new transition, find some ‘me time’ as it can get stressful as there is a learning curve in distant learning’’ he says. He is currently taking five classes and estimating about 20+ hours a week on the computer for school and homework. The pros for his virtual learning experience is the ability to do your work on your own time however, the decrease in interaction might be a negative for him. He balances his mental health by dedicating days to just doing other things besides homework and easing the social barrier by interacting online with peers as much as possible.

Overall, distance learning has greeted us with a lot of adjustments to our typical normal routine but students are taking everything in stride. The one consistent piece of advice from students is to have a positive attitude. Try to focus on things other than the COVID situation. Lastly, I believe everyone should remain kind, calm and understanding of the challenges we are currently facing. Students as well as faculty can help each other stay on track during the global pandemic.

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