Most students were dismayed when they heard that the school year would be online for the rest of the year, but when I heard Jay Inslee deliver the news on a beautiful sunny afternoon, I could not have been more joyful. Although I am a senior and will be missing out on countless senior traditions that I have been looking forward to for almost 13 years, I would gladly give that up any day for the continuation of online classes. In other words — who cares about graduation anyways?
Of the many benefits of albeit awkward Google Meets and Zoom calls, one stands above the rest: the space to learn new things. Some students have happily pronounced that they have spent their extra time learning about birds, plants, or enjoying the outdoors. While this can be great fun, there is absolutely no way any of this knowledge will help you in the “real” world. What can mental health and spending time outdoors do for you? Absolutely nothing. The real skills are learned in the smaller moments. For example, students have reported that they have become increasingly talented at multitasking: “I’ve gotten to be really great at holding my computer, six different worksheets, a random fork, my headphones, and a full glass of water as I rush off to class.” Others have proclaimed that they have expanded their ability to keep their upper body completely still and relaxed while performing complex tasks with their hands. There are even a select few students that have trained themselves to keep their eyes looking at the screen while using their periphery to read critical articles and to-do lists. These new skills are clearly crucial for many jobs after high school.
A much more appreciated plus to online classes is the option to wake up literal seconds before class begins. One student has confessed to regularly waking up 70 seconds before class starts and going to class from the comfort of their own bed. While this may not be completely beneficial to classroom learning, students are getting up to two or three times as much sleep as they did before school moved online. “I had forgotten what it felt like to feel awake without having three cups of coffee in the morning. Now, feeling tired is an occasional conscious feeling rather than a constant state of being.”
Strangely, one of the creepiest advantages to online classes is also the most interesting. In official polls conducted by The Viking Voice, the majority of respondents always say that the best part of Google Meets and Zoom meetings is seeing other students’ and teachers’ homes. “I never would have known that Oliver had exclusively orange furniture in his room, or that Amanda had six mirrors in her living room but not a single window.” Each person’s small rectangular background displayed on the computer screen says so much about their inner personality; I almost think we should start sending screenshots from zoom meetings instead of making up short bios on dating apps — it is way easier to get an accurate reading of someone’s life this way. “I feel like I understand all of my teachers on a much deeper level than I did pre-COVID-19. I’ve really connected with them on an emotional level after seeing the color they have chosen to paint their walls.”