Students Compare Virtual and In-Person Learning and Discuss the Future of Virtual School


Credit to Alise Simon

Mrs. White teaches her class virtually. FHN has plans to continue with a virtual instruction option next year.

By Parker Kilen, Ray Hathcock and Alex Thomas

This year, students at FHN and all across the district had the option to either do school virtually or in-person. The majority of students chose to still do school in-person, but there were still many students who chose to do virtual. Needless to say, this school year has been very different from previous school years, especially for the teachers and virtual students.

“It’s just [been] a lot more complicated figuring out how to do things,” psychology teacher Sean Fowler said. “I made decisions early on on how I was going to teach my virtual versus my in-person classes. At the end of last year I was trying to teach via Zoom and it was just unpleasant. I was kind of teaching into the void.”

Sophomore Andrew Nevenner enjoyed virtual learning, but eventually decided it was time to return back to in-person learning second semester. According to Nevenner, the advantages of virtual learning are that it’s very laid back and the classes and school days are shorter. But the disadvantages of virtual learning compared are that it’s more fast paced and there’s less peer interaction, and students don’t get to experience the in-school environment.

“I got to meet people and form friendships across the district that I probably wouldn’t have met if not for online class,” Nevenner said. “But I didn’t feel as connected as a community with my classmates and my teachers. I didn’t feel a bond with people as I would in-person.”

Sophomore TJ Heath also chose to start first semester by doing virtual learning but decided to go in-person come second semester. According to Heath, virtual learning was a good experience, but not as good as in-person learning.

“You aren’t really able to talk to your friends as much when you do virtual,” Heath said. “I think in-person school is less stressful because you have more incentive to try harder and you can’t really just skip doing work.”

Overall, virtual learning has been an interesting experience for many teachers and students. With current plans, next year is looking similar to this year with a continued combination of both virtual and in-person learning. Luckily, teachers and students will be prepared and in better shape for next school year with experience with online learning and time to prepare.

“I feel like I have a better grasp on how to do online,” Fowler said. “I’m still going to make mistakes but I made so many mistakes early on with Canvas that I couldn’t really rectify until the semester was over, so I’ve made fewer mistakes with Canvas and that has led to less difficulty than I thought.”