New Year, New Zoom: What Has Changed in the Remote Learning Experience?

Students and teachers share feedback on how remote learning has changed from last fall to this spring.


Steven Pappas

My workspace during online learning, similar to that of most students working from home during this time.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students have been learning from home for the last few months. Now, a month into the new school year, students and staff have had ample time to adapt to remote learning, including the changes from last spring to this fall.

Given that remote learning was new territory for the students and staff, it did come with its fair share of bumps in the road. For students, most of these difficulties involved immersing ourselves in a system that was unfamiliar. We’d been so accustomed to in-person school for almost a decade that it was hard to adjust to this new method of education.

“Last semester, I found myself falling behind on my work a lot just because I didn’t really have a system in place for the weird circumstances we were given,” said Andrew Callan, junior. 

It’s not just students who felt this way. The teaching board had the responsibility of creating a  new learning

The approach to remote learning has changed from last Spring to this Fall, with a new schedule and mandatory Zoom meetings. (Courtesy of Fox Lake School District)

environment in a short amount of time.

“The state of Illinois before was saying, ‘Survive. Make sure there’s some learning going on, make sure the kids are there, and mostly make sure they’re safe,’” said Ms. Bianca Holland, Spanish teacher. “And now, we have to be closer to school than we were before.”

In such a chaotic environment, time to prepare is essential. Making sure that everything is organized, and the students are learning is difficult. However, even in times like these, Central was able to introduce the system in just a few weeks.

“Most of the schools that I know did not start until two to three weeks later,” Holland said.

Implementing a working system in a short amount of time obviously requires great leadership. For Hinsdale Central, that came in the form of Mr. David Lapetino, a member of the technology department. His great reaction helped to organize and create a plan that led to remote learning from last spring.

As we observed the situation that was evolving around both the world and the rest of the country, I attempted to create a plan that would balance instructional needs with the realities of both students and staff attempting to learn from home,” Lapetino said.

Now, however, there has been a lot more time to prepare for an entire summer and available feedback from people who experienced it. They also had a wider audience to receive constructive feedback from, helping to create a better remote learning plan.

“Because we had greater ‘lead time’ prior to our return to school, the planning committee involved in the discussions was a much larger group that included a more diverse group of individuals, including district and building administration, teachers, social workers, nurses, etc.,” Lapetino said. “We were also able to present our ‘return to school’ plans to the Parent Teacher Advisory Council, which includes parents, community members, teachers, administration, and student representatives.”

Some teachers were able to expand upon this feedback effectively, using both the new system caused by feedback around the community and their experiences themselves to create an ideal learning system for this time.

“We feel so much more confident. I am trying to envision how I want the school year to be, how I want to set up my classrooms, etc.,” Holland said.

The feedback from students was positive as well, giving more evidence to the improvement that the system has made.

“This year teachers are trying to make online as similar to normal school which I enjoy,” Callan said.