Online vs. In-Person Instruction

It was March of 2020. Wake County officially announced that school would be closed due to COVID, and there wasn’t a single roll of toilet paper in sight. In September of that year, Google Meet and other forms of online learning had become the new normal for the students of Wake County. These applications were in effect so students could still earn an education while not risking their health and safety. Two years later, the schools have integrated back to how it was before. But the question remains, did we have it better back then, or do we have it better now?

One of the things that in-person instruction is better at is having fewer distractions than online instruction. During in-person learning, the only distractions you can encounter are using your phone and your mind thinking of other things that are not relevant to the lesson at hand. Senior Issac Brockway said, “I think in-person is better because there are less distractions.” In online learning, however, the distractions are limitless, like television, phones, video games, and other tabs on your computer.

In-person learning also allows students to interact with one another. When schools were online, there wasn’t any way for students to interact with each other. Now that everyone is back in school, students can have proper social interactions with their peers, when appropriate. Being in a school setting helps students regain some of their social skills after spending a full year in quarantine.

Now, I’m not saying that online school was completely inferior, as there were some upsides. One upside is that there was more flexibility when classes were online. You can log in to a google meet anywhere, so the only thing to stress about going to school is waking up on time. More flexibility allowed students to complete assignments at their own pace. Another positive related to online learning is that stress was minimized for students. Students may be willing to participate more behind a screen than in front of a live audience due to the ability to hide behind an icon on their screen. However, other aspects of online instruction, such as teacher-student interaction and assigning work, are drastically improved when done in the classroom.

In-person classes are far better than online instruction due to the opportunities provided to interact with peers and the limitation of distractions. While online classes worked well for the time we were indoors, in-person just works better in the long term. But at the end of the day, we can all agree that the biggest upside to in-person teaching is that we actually have toilet paper.