Monday, August 15, 2022

New youth forum talks virtual learning in Md.


A new online youth forum in Frederick County, Maryland, launched its first session last Friday, and three student guests—two high school students from Urbana High School in Ijamsville and one fifth grader from Oakdale Elementary—shared their thoughts about social justice and virtual learning, the Frederick News-Post reports.

The forum was hosted by Tarolyn Thrasher, who hopes to hold more online youth forums in the future for area students.

“I want to be able to give them a platform and teach them how to be vocal,” she was quoted as saying. “A lot of things that are affecting our younger generation we don’t get to hear about from them, because we are so wrapped up in our adult world … we should hear from the source.”

Views about virtual learning have been reported on these pages previously and in other news outlets from students across the country. Those views were largely echoed Friday night:

There’s definitely an aspect where it sucks that I can’t be in school for my senior year. … I actually really like virtual learning, but it’s definitely harder,” one of the high school seniors said. “When you don’t understand a concept, it’s hard to just go and ask the teacher. … But I would definitely rather be at home and safe than at school around a bunch of other people and you don’t know where they’ve been.”

A research article—prophetically published in 2007—examined student opinions about virtual learning, long before Covid-19 became a reality. “The aim of this paper is to show that e-learning is a form of education that will soon have to be used everywhere,” wrote Željka Požgaj and colleagues at the University of Croatia. Their study found that while the advantages of virtual learning include:

  • Learning from own home
  • Everything in the same place
  • Favorable for people with restricted mobility
  • Easy access to information
  • No fixed terms of learning
  • Lower cost of studying
  • Possibility of repetition if necessary
  • Freedom in choosing teaching materials

the disadvantages were great:

  • No direct communication with teachers
  • No direct communication among students
  • No interaction
  • Loneliness, depression
  • Costs of Internet
  • Working long hours on the computer can be harmful

Their study was published in the Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Information Technology Interfaces (2007).

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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