While they enjoyed working at their own pace in the comfort of their own home, some Grade 11 students at Sir John A. MacDonald High School (SJAM) in Waterloo, Ont. say they still prefer the traditional classroom with its student-teacher interaction during lessons.

Their school hosted a national student leadership conference for three days at the end of September. The school suspended classroom learning and sent its students to study online while the building was used for conference sessions. 

While their workloads appeared to be the same, SJAM students Cynthia Zhang, Evi Zafiris and Stephen Cresswell felt they had more time outside the classroom to work on the assignment. Another positive: they said certain subjects fit the distance learning format.

"I would say it worked best for languages course like French.They're a little easier to convey across email [with] shorter messages," said Stephen Cresswell.

"Whereas things like maths and sciences, where it's pretty technical stuff, where there's a right or a wrong answer... its harder to convey that across an email."

Future online studies

SJAM Principal Jennifer Shortreed said while she doesn't think online learning will replace the human interaction of the classroom, there will be opportunities for this style of lesson to continue.

"If you imagine a teacher has unexpected family emergency...they might be able to post lessons for students," said Shortreed.

"Snow days, sadly might [allow] the teacher to type in a few things."  The school might be closed but the schoolwork can continue. 

"As well teachers [who have]  co-curricular obligations will be able to post assignments, which would allow them to be present even though they're absent."


Jennifer Shortreed

SJAM Principal Jennifer Shortreed thinks online learning may work in a number of scenarios including snow days. (Joe Pavia)

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