Are There Any Upsides To Distance Learning?

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Is there an upside to virtual school? Above the Noise teamed up with PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at Black River Falls High School in Wisconsin to learn how students have been dealing with the pandemic and online learning.

TEACHERS: Get your students in the discussion on KQED Learn, a safe place for middle and high school students to investigate controversial topics and share their voices. Download lesson plan and get started on KQED Learn.

The coronavirus is taking a toll on folks physically and mentally all around the world. As we continue to navigate through the pandemic, students are working virtually as the majority of schools nationwide are doing some form of distance learning.

What are the problems with remote learning?

Since the announcement of the first lockdown almost a year ago, the pandemic has since taken a toll on almost everyone's mental health. Multiple studies show that young people's grades are at lower levels than before the pandemic, and they often experience feelings of unhappiness, depression, and overall difficulty to stay engaged. These feelings can be especially intense for students who are dealing with additional challenges, such family members who are essential workers, unemployed, or dealing with illness.

What are some benefits of distance learning?


There are some positives. Studies point out the hidden benefits of distance learning, including how helpful later school start times are to students' physical and mental health. Remote learning can also make the school experience easier for students who suffer from social anxiety disorder (SAD) or other mental health issues. Students say some upsides are not having to go to physical school, more access to teachers online, the ability to work at their own pace, and enjoying the comforts of home.

What parts of online learning should remain post-pandemic?

Once we’re able to safely work and go to school in person things will not be as they were prior to the pandemic. In the video, students share aspects of distance learning they would like to see remain as part of their education.


K-12 Figures

Map of where schools are closed

Advantages to distance learning

Online school's benefits for students with anxiety

Study of how students are coping

Benefits of later school start times 

Disparities in remote learning 

Virtual learning's challenges