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  • An Editorial by Harper Purcell

Hello from Home!

I've been asked to write a short bit about my time during online learning, and with my return to campus drawing ever so near, I thought this would be a good chance to reflect on my past experiences and to express my excitement for the future.

Now I'm going to be blunt—online learning is not a walk in the park. The Fear of Missing Out is real, and I have to admit, it's really hard having to listen to your classmates interact with each other without you. I wish the answer was as easy as just putting the computer in front of students so they can talk with each other. It sounds like the perfect solution, but when we are paired with in-person partners, it's a bit awkward due to the rough wifi connections and the lack of things to talk about. If you're not with one of your really good friends (and odds of that are very low), it can be a struggle to work together. And if you're in a group? You are forgotten.

As far as the actual classes go, I know I find it really hard to focus. I catch my mind drifting off thinking about other things, and I'm always having to refocus again and again. Staring at a computer screen for several hours a day makes me feel a kind of exhaustion I never knew existed. I've invested in some blue-light glasses in an effort to try to relieve the massive headaches I've started to get. I'm wearing them right now, actually.

Photo of Online-Learner James Purcell. Photo by Harper Purcell.

But there are some good things about at-home learning too! For example, because of the block schedule, I only have to focus on three classes, instead of the usual six. It makes the whole technological side easier to navigate, as I don't have to worry about finding six different Zoom links, meeting with six different teachers on extremely different topics, confronting six different types of problems that are bound to happen. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. And, while the amount of work per class is twice as much as normal, I only have to put my energy in three classes, so I am not spread as thin. Also, I get to sleep in! Today I woke up at 10:30 a.m. for a class that started at 10:52. All I had to do was put on some clothes, brush my teeth, grab my computer, and I was ready! I've been able to catch up on some much-needed rest, and with all the downtime (I don't have to move from class to class, and all lunch consists of is me walking upstairs—no pre-planning necessary) I have been able to finish my homework early!

I am also very thankful for the extra time I have been able to spend with my family. I usually don’t see my father much, as he works in Atlanta and by the time he gets home I am swallowed in homework. But because I have been able to finish a lot of it before the end of the day, I've been able to hang out with him (and the rest of my family for that matter) much more! I have also been able to read some new books, go for some walks, take a break, and enjoy the time I've been given.

Here’s some advice from me to you: keep an open mind and stay as flexible as possible when it comes to connecting with at-home learners! We know problems like the wifi crashing or a computer glitching are all too common, and while they’re aggravating for sure, we all ask that you bear with us. It's not easy to be so far away from school and still be connected, and I would like to personally thank the teachers for always keeping this in mind and doing everything they can to make this experience feel as normal as possible (not to mention how creative they've been in order to make this happen).

And although I enjoyed the serene self-reflection time that's been gifted to me, I get more and more excited as the day I come back to in-person school approaches. It's so soon, in fact, that by the time this is published, I'll be back! Make sure when you pass me to say hey. I've missed all of you!

See you soon ;)

-Harper Purcell