Blog Post: Online Learning


by: Dr. David McIntosh, Ball State University

A common routine during the weekday is for me to yell up the stairs around 7:45 a.m. to make sure my 16 ½ year-old is up and ready for online learning. Some days he informs me that he doesn’t have class until 9 a.m. or until later in the day. On other days, he says, “Yeah, I know…I am up.” as he rolls out of bed.  What I have found is it has been nearly impossible (I should just say impossible.) to keep track of his daily schedule while he has been participating in online learning since last March.  His mother and me have strategized about how to stay connected and informed about what he is learning, assignments, and due dates. We have tried the following with limited success:

  1. Having him write down every assignment and due date. This lasted about three days if I recall. He wore us down and we finally got tired of asking if he was writing down his assignments and due dates. 
  2. Daily questioning.  As any parent, we worked hard not to be so obvious and tried to work it in casually to conversations.  He picked up on it right away. 
  3. Asking to show us his grades on PowerSchool.  This tended to create friction and resulted in him feeling like we were questioning him and did not trust him. We gave up on this after about a week. 
  4. Waiting for him to tell us. We are still waiting. 

In the end, as parents, we were fairly frustrated. Keeping track of what is going on related to online learning is something we were never prepared to do, never thought we would have to do, and struggle to relate to.  We never had online learning growing up for goodness sake! Here is what we learned.

First, it is okay to worry and be concerned about online learning. Yes, it is new; however, we are learning something new and there is always a little anxiety related to online learning.  We found we were the ones experience anxiety…we are yet to see our son display any anxiety. 

Second, our son is much more at ease with online learning and doesn’t seem impacted by it at all. In fact, he enjoys the freedom that comes with online learning. 

Third, from a technology perspective, our son is much more prepared and use to technology than we are.  In fact, we often ask him to help us out when we are struggling with technology. 

Fourth, we need to be flexible. How children and teenagers learn is very different compared to when we were in school. 

Fifth, we were worried able him being able to interact and socialize with peers. In short, we did not want him to miss out interacting with his peers. We found out that he is actually very social and continues to interact with peers. He is more likely to communicate with friends through social media than actually talking to them while at school…this is what he has shared with us. We believe it…he is constantly on his phone. 

Finally, it will be okay. We are going to get through this pandemic and how students learn may never be the same, but that is okay.  How students are taught may never be the same, but that is okay. In the end, the goal is the same, help our son attain the best education possible.  


About the author: 

Dr. David McIntosh is a faculty member at Ball State University.

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