Trading pencils for keyboards

Students reflect on life in a virtual classroom


Audrey Lippert

Students across all grade levels started school virtually this year using zoom and google classroom.

Unconventional has become the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. The start of school was no exception, with students and teachers having  to navigate a completely new way of learning. 


Since our state has not been able to reach the metrics set in place by Governor Brown regarding schools reopening, students were given two options for online learning this fall: the comprehensive distance learning plan (CDL), run through the West Linn Wilsonville School District, or a program offered through FUEL Ed, taught by in-district teachers.


The two programs are utilizing different platforms, though both are learning through Zoom. The CDL model, which will transition into a hybrid model come potential school reopenings in future quarters, is similar to what students experienced last spring with Distance Learning, the most prominent differences being the scheduled Zoom calls and letter grades. FUEL Ed however, will stay online for the remainder of the school year as opposed to re-entering school once it is safe to do so.


Both systems have created challenges for the students and teachers using them. Connor Smith, sophomore, opted to try FUEL Ed. “It’s hard not being able to get an answer whenever you want, it’s more like if they read your question then you’ll get one,” Smith said. 


One-on-one student teacher interaction can be much more difficult to get online. Students can no longer walk up to their teachers to ask for help, and instead have to wait and hope their teacher will check the chat box or their emails. 


Starting the school year virtually has changed countless things, especially for incoming freshmen. “It’s definitely not the way I intended on starting high school but it’s better than just not having it,” Morgan Adams, freshman, said. This year’s freshmen will have a significantly different first year of high school than any class before them. Instead of navigating sprawling halls during passing periods, they spent their first day navigating Google Classroom and Zoom links.


“My first period I was unable to get into because I had not downloaded the right software for zoom yet,” Adams said, “but I was able to get in probably five minutes after that and I wasn’t too late.” 


Online learning has changed the face of education. Students and teachers alike are using new techniques and technology to share information, which has posed challenges that wouldn’t otherwise be faced in the classroom. Adams is just thankful to be in school. “I’m glad we have some sort of alternative of being able to see our classmates and see our teacher and be able to feel like we’re in a classroom, even though it’s very virtual,” Adams said.