Adapting to a Remote World by Pomona Liu, Age 12

SHANGHAI, CHINA— Nowadays, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, all of us must stay indoors to be quarantined. Students have eLearning work and live lessons; adults still go out to work. The COVID-19 health and safety issue will be recorded in history. As this new way of learning is completely new to some students, there have been some problems about online learning, as well as working. Let’s find out more about how children, parents, and teachers feel about this new way of doing things.
First, me as a student, I feel a bit stressed from what some call this eLearning catastrophe, but I also feel hopeful. I am not alone. I interviewed some of my classmates, and 29% of them thought that eLearning wasn’t very different from the learning we had in school, and that everything remains under control; 57% of them said that eLearning still needed some time to get used to— which I agree with; 14% said that eLearning was just simply a mess for them, and they wanted to start all over again. But for me, I think that eLearning is just another fun way of learning. You can learn in your home; it is just like being homeschooled!
Overall, there are some ways how students think eLearning could be improved:

  • Joined calendars with all your schedules from inside and outside of school, with no clashes.
  • Use another app instead of Teams, because that way there may be fewer glitches and accidents the Wi-Fi could cause.
  • Receive more lessons instead of homework, so we can use the time to ask the teachers what we do not know.
  • Create a quieter environment with muting our microphones when the teacher is speaking, to decrease the amount of unnecessary noise.
  • Interact more with each other, such as discussing in smaller groups and sharing our ideas to the class afterwards.

Now, let’s hear what the teachers think. I have interviewed 2 teachers about it, and they feel almost the same way as the students! The Mandarin teacher Ms. Spring felt that the students should turn on their cameras, because most of the time she feels like only she is talking. Also, she believes that the school should rearrange the time schedule, because it’s stressful to decide which lessons to go to when they are all your students. “When I tell them that the lesson is canceled, it feels really irresponsible,” she says. The Computer Science teacher Mr. Forbes says that students should participate as well in the lesson, rather than him choosing who speaks. “It is okay if they say something wrong,” he says; he just wants to make sure that everyone is listening.
Therefore, here are some ways that the teachers think eLearning should be improved:

  • Joint Calendars (as well).
  • Turned on cameras if possible.
  • Participate even though you’re not quite sure of the answer.
  • Give feedback so the teacher knows you’re listening.
  • If you can share your screen, do it and let the teacher have a look at your work and see what they can do to improve it.

Meanwhile, parents like mine are facing challenges when working remotely as well. For them and their companies, the biggest concern is how safe their internet is. When staff are having meetings face to face, everyone is from the company, so you don’t need to be worried if the program or contract is exposed to anyone else. But when you are online, there are problems. The company that serves to network must know what the meeting is talking about, but if the meeting doesn’t involve the inner technology of the company, then that is okay. If it does, then it’s going to be very dangerous, including the passing of important files and contracts with other companies.
Another problem is that on phone calls and videos you can’t see the body language that a person is showing. They might be frustrated, excited, angry, or sad. You don’t know unless they tell you. Text messages are also an issue because you don’t know the tone they’re speaking of. If one is just being sarcastic or joking, you might think they’re really angry, because you understand it in your own way, and that brings a lot of misunderstandings. Some things must be solved face to face, so that brings a lot of trouble in terms of delivering the information within the requested time. Your attention may not be as focused as usual. The overall effect isn’t as good as a face-to-face meeting and some projects must be implemented right after the meeting. Therefore, when there is a question, it would be tricky because how would you know if the other person is online or not? It would be sort of rude to urge someone to answer you.
So, here are some ways parents like mine think that online working should be improved:
Find an Internet Company that one trusts, may be a friend’s or a close person’s.
Make sure there is always someone online to answer an intern’s questions.
Email an article at least a day before the conference so every member could have a look at what you have done. In detail.
Extend the time to hand an article if it isn’t urgent in need.
So, in short, eLearning and working online still need a bit of time to get used to. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but it is a good start.

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