At the beginning of STAC 3, Concord Academy students returned to virtual learning. For some, that meant having to readjust to online classes, while others simply continued on as they had since September. Distance learning is challenging in some regards, but the faculty have done a remarkable job in ensuring students are supported. Overall, they have maintained a smooth transition from the hybrid model to virtual learning.
As someone who made the decision to do STAC 2 completely online, it has been nice to have my classmates back in a fully virtual setting. The hybrid model was unquestionably beneficial for some, however, it felt as though online students were neglected, as teachers were mainly focused on the students physically present in the classroom. To me, the virtual classroom is a more equal, shared space for all students, and I do not feel as if I am missing out on a better learning experience by being online. Teachers have also done their best to maintain normalcy in the virtual classroom and ensure that students are receiving the best academic experience possible. For me, walking into a new classroom at the beginning of the year is accompanied by feelings of anxiety. Simply joining a Zoom meeting takes less courage; I do not have to worry about doing something embarrassing because I can mute myself and turn my camera off. Those features, as well as the ability to take classes in the familiar environment of my room, adds an element of comfort to school.
However, G. Wyatt Fernandes ‘23, who participated in-person during the hybrid model, holds a different opinion. “Learning in person was so much better than being online. Distance learning takes a toll on your mental health, and it was nice to have a change,” Wyatt continues, “[I] was a little upset about going back to being fully virtual, as [I] really enjoyed actually getting to physically go to school.” This seems to be a view shared by many students who attended school in person for STAC 2. They have expressed that while distance learning has been better than they expected, it still does not compare to the in-classroom experience.
With the transition back to virtual learning came a sigh of relief from students and teachers alike, as the technology utilized in the HyFlex classroom during STAC 2 caused a few hiccups. Classes were often cut short due to tech issues, so it did not feel as though anyone was getting the full benefit of the experience. Now that we are fully virtual again, technology issues have decreased, which allows for a less interrupted learning experience.
For some, the transition back to fully virtual learning has been a letdown compared to STAC 2. Others are happy to return to the online routine reminiscent of STAC 1. I now feel like I am receiving the same experience as everyone else in my classes instead of a sense of neglect, and that I am not missing out on the social aspects of in-person learning anymore. I hope that the return in January back to the hybrid model is as smooth as this one and that at that time, everyone receives the learning experience they should.