Despite being thrust into the maelstrom of online learning, I’ve found both lockdowns an extremely positive experience…but I know this is not the case for others.

 

 

In New Zealand, our first lockdown in March prompted some serious marriage counselling for the relationship between teachers and technology. Thankfully, they were up for the challenge, and have made some of the best online resources and creative lessons ever. Needless to say, Carmel College’s online school provided learning for all ages!

Now with our second lockdown in August, we’re back into online learning… and while I, a fairly introverted Year 13 student who has to mentally rehearse saying “Here!” for attendance, was perfectly fine sitting at my desk with my camera off, tidy shirt and pajamas bottoms on, and the fridge only a short distance away, I know that this is not the case for many of my friends and peers.

My friend group is a mixed bag of introverts and extroverts; so, while some like me were fine to be at home, others couldn’t wait to be back in the school grounds. I could understand that—I missed my extroverted buddies too—but luckily we were able to utilise the same video chat programs as our teachers and have our own calls; there were “before school” calls, “lunchtime” calls, and sometimes “I have Bio in half an hour is anyone else free?” calls. It was great that we could connect during lockdown and still have the hilarious trademark conversations that we had at school.

“But,” I hear you say, “pray tell, dear student, what was your experience of learning during COVID-19?”

 


This article is part of our student voices writing competition, presented by Education Perfect.

You can vote for Madison’s piece here: https://epforschool.com/en/register-for-student-voices-writing-competition/


 

My learning experience was—for both lockdowns—extremely positive. Like many of my peers, I’m pretty self-conscious. I’m nervous asking questions in class, especially with all my classmates watching. But lockdown did wonders for my confidence. Asking questions, either in the Google Meet chat section or even, God forbid, out loud (once I’d unmuted my microphone, of course) was a lot less intimidating when most of my classmates appeared to be harmless little circles on a screen. 

It’s fair to say that my time management skills are almost too good—once I sink my teeth into an awesome new project, it can be hard for me to stop. One of my most memorable learning experiences during this time was my History project, appropriately titled ‘Hollywood & History’ (AS 3.2). This project required students to choose a film based on a historical event and compare the facts of the event with what the movie industry presented as ‘fact’, write a report and present a (condensed) version of said report to the class. I found a way to unite some of my interests (including Shakespeare, Ancient Rome, and snappy slideshow animations) to create a slideshow depicting how Shakespeare rewrote history in Julius Caesar, the sources he based it off, and thoroughly debunked the famous line, “Et tu, Brute?” With online school starting at 9:00 am and ending at 3:30 pm (with a half-hour break between every class and around three hours of Independent Study periods each day), I was able to pour my heart and soul into this project. I am a researcher, through and through—Google Scholar, PapersPast, Acadamia.edu and He Who Shall Not Be Named (Wikipedia) are some of my most commonly visited websites, and I can definitively say I find the research aspect the best part of the assignment.

Then the hard part: actually presenting the darn thing.

With a huge glass of Lipton Raspberry Ice Tea™ (not sponsored) next to me on my desk and a printed copy of my speaker notes (always be prepared, kids) I managed to get my precious brain baby of a slideshow up and running. As the picture of my face disappeared, replaced by my opening slide, I realised something. Not only could I not see (the majority of) my classmates’ real-time faces, they couldn’t see me. And that really lifted a weight off of my shoulders. I felt like I was floating. I didn’t have to be self-conscious of how I looked, or make eye contact with people without mucking up my line. I was totally free and unlimited and in complete control.

 

While I, a fairly introverted Year 13 student who has to mentally rehearse saying “Here!” for attendance, was perfectly fine sitting at my desk with my camera off, tidy shirt and pajamas bottoms on, and the fridge only a short distance away, I know that this is not the case for many of my friends and peers.

 

I wished that was the case for me at school, because upon returning I started a new assessment, this time for English: AS 3.5. A seminar. I picked my topic, wrote a funny but #deep script, made a slideshow with those snappy animations, but this time had to present in front of the class. No longer a screen of static profile pictures: an actual, real-life class of people who, upon further inspection, I barely knew. Yikes.

I am delighted to report that it went well. But I was so self-conscious up there. No screen to hide behind, no ice tea: just me, a rickety podium, and a dodgy remote. I didn’t feel the same sense of presenting magic that I felt during my Julius Caesar slideshow; what I felt was knee-knocking nervousness. The moment that I got up before that podium I wished, desperately, that I could be back in lockdown, with the protection of my laptop. 

It appears that I got my wish a month late, because as of Wednesday 12th of August, New Zealand re-entered lockdown. Here in Auckland, we are at Level 3, which means a return to online learning. We’ve managed to get back into the swing of things fairly quickly at Carmel College: I’ve been enjoying my newfound confidence, as asking questions doesn’t feel so daunting when I ask them from behind a screen. 

I truly am thriving in this strange, digital environment. Overall—for me, at least—learning in lockdown hasn’t been so bad.

 


This article is part of our student voices writing competition, presented by Education Perfect.

You can vote for Madison’s piece here: https://epforschool.com/en/register-for-student-voices-writing-competition/


 

 

More information about EP and its uses can be found by visiting the website, www.epforlearning.com.

 

 

Share via