What students really think about learning online

That’s not to say online students are left to fend for themselves. Like most online teachers, I am in constant communication with my students—well beyond the parameters of a typical school day.

Things are explained to me in an easy way that I can understand.

I feel that my teachers are willing to help me on things when I am stuck.

I like that I can get help at any time.

I personally like your understanding attitude about stuff the most.

I had to sneak that last one in there. Teachers don’t often get nice compliments from students, so this made my week!

Technology has made individualized learning possible and can reach students who have struggled in a traditional classroom. As I saw during three decades as a teacher at a traditional school, many students fail to thrive not owing to lack of effort but because of external challenges, including social, medical, and economic ones. Some of these comments are raw and honest and unfortunately reflect the very real problems of peer pressure and social status prevalent in many schools.

Due to my health and other obligations, I like being able to do different amounts every day. Some days I can get an entire week’s worth of lessons finished, while some days I might not be able to do anything. I like the flexibility and ability to work at my own pace when I need it.

You can have a job and get money at the same time as doing this online.

I like not worrying about what I look like.

The fact that you don’t have a lot of annoying people in the same room as you. That usually made learning in a public school hard. 

No bullying.

Digital learning also levels the playing field among schools, allowing students to get access to courses they would otherwise not find a classroom.

I also like taking different foreign languages than public schools, such as German.

With this generation of digital natives, doing schoolwork on the computer (or tablet or smart phone) comes naturally. As a result, students find the course materials more fun and approachable. A familiarity with digital learning also provides the building blocks for future success.

I like the interactive exercises in German, particularly the speaking and pronunciation portions that would be difficult to do otherwise.

The lessons are sometimes fun to complete. They keep me interested in the course, because they often teach me something that I never knew or they build on the knowledge that I already had on a subject.

I like it because it is a new way of learning and this skill may carry on to college. 

And because my students are teenagers, some of the comments are sassy…

Being able to do school in your PJs certainly makes it enjoyable.

No gum chewing rules! lol

…some are sweet…

What is best is spending more time with family.

…and some show that digital learning is really working.

I can read a different language and speak it.

Susan Lafky, Middlebury Interactive Languages’ lead German teacher, has been teaching world languages for parts of four decades, mostly in the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. 

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