Distance Learning Deja Vu

Just when zoom screens and asynchronous tasks had started to feel like an unpleasant memory, Woodstock students found themselves almost thrown back in time for another few weeks of distance learning. With the whole world seemingly opening up again and back on its feet, it’s easy to wonder why we are still dragging ourselves out of bed at 8 am to go sit in front of our computer screens for the rest of the day. While the school has gone to great lengths to explain why this is happening, many still find themselves wondering why this is happening. 

This remote start to the semester is part of Woodstock’s pilot program “Learning Happens Everywhere.” The two main reasons seem to be avoiding the icy temperatures that come with early February and attempting to accommodate a world and society that is becoming increasingly digital. The first reason does make more sense in light of the massive flu that swept through Woodstock in the beginning of December, making the campus a ghost town for the last week of school. 11th-grade student Ruhbani Sodhi remembers that “we were all super excited for the last week of school but then everyone slowly started getting sick and it got so bad that all of my friends had a high fever. It was just a really bad experience. A lot of people had to change their flights, and a lot of people couldn’t change their flights, which was really inconvenient.” If the distance learning start allows us to avoid a repeat of this, it won’t have been in vain. However, cold weather isn’t going to go away and Woodstock can never fully avoid waves of sickness when we all live in such proximity to each other. It might be better to devote thought to improving protocol when things like this happen, instead of trying to hide from the cold completely. We can only hope that Woodstock doesn’t get hit by the flu again as students flood back in.

The second cause for this online learning interval is about creating “digital citizens” out of Woodstock students. As DP Psychology teacher Ms. Aradhana says, “We are going to be moving into a world where things are becoming more and more virtual. We are going to continue to be in that world. A lot of offices are working online, a lot of workplaces are contemplating giving up their office spaces. So it is a new reality that we are looking at…” There is no doubt that distance learning in Woodstock is very efficient. After all, there were two years in which to perfect it. Understandably, the faculty would want to utilize this new skill, instead of abandoning it as a remnant of COVID. A new 11th-grade student states “In my previous school, the faculty was just starting to get used to online learning and most of it was spent getting accustomed to the new system. In Woodstock, the system is a lot more organized and since all of us are already familiar with online learning, it is much easier to cope with.” Online learning incorporated into the year isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but we also have to consider how it’ll be pulled off. Are three weeks a year enough to make well-rounded and modern virtual learners out of Woodstock students? “I am more concerned about the short duration, these three weeks, I really want to go back to my actual classes. This is like an interim period. For me it’s not significantly different in terms of giving a very authentic virtual experience of learning. It’s more like an extension of an in-person classroom,” says Ms. Aradhana. 

There’s no doubt the world is changing, but does Woodstock have to change with it? Should tradition always be observed, or is adapting inevitable? These are things to think about, and in the meantime, we’ll have to wait to see if this pilot program becomes a tradition.

Eliza is a staff writer.

Edited by Asha

One thought on “Distance Learning Deja Vu

  1. There’s no doubt the world is changing, but does Woodstock have to change with it? Should tradition always be observed, or is adapting inevitable?

    Excellent statement.


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