The In and Outs of Virtual & Hybrid Learning


By Joy Alemu and Caryn Gardner

The Virtual Experience – by Senior Joy Alemu

As a senior, I have experienced for the past three years being able to go to classes, school, participate in school clubs, after school activities, and more. But due to the pandemic, for the first quarter, I decided to be a fully virtual learner and wanted to give my insights on how I feel it has been, both the positives and negatives. 

As a virtual learner, some of my favorite things are:

  1. Not having to wake up early for school since I live far away from school.
  2. Not having to rush from class to class and take a breather in between classes.
  3. I feel that these have benefited my overall mood and the energy I bring to my classes.

When it comes to classes, I have personally seen all my teachers try to help virtual learners in the best ways possible from constant engagement in classes to asking us questions. Teachers have asked questions just directed at the virtual learners in order to keep us engaged and constantly asked for feedback on how to make the system better. They also have sent packets, books, or other materials to our homes since we are not able to get them in classes. Though I was definitely worried about how it would work initially, I do think the school created a system where people from home feel comfortable.

However, there are still negatives to these systems, such as poor audio in classes and feeling like one is an outsider. With the audio, sometimes it is hard to hear students far away from the mic or tablet, which causes some problems or need for repetition. With the latter problem, though the school has strived to make virtual learners feel like they are in the class, it is not the same. Though I am now used to it, it also initially felt a bit awkward seeing myself on the TV screen. I believe that the first quarter was a test run to see how everything went and to ease people back into school.

I believe that the system, amongst the hard times that people have faced, is the best it can possibly be. Though there are technical issues, teachers try their best and always strive to make virtual learners feel welcome within the classroom. With the two days in school and three days at home format, there are also many opportunities for everyone to interact on the same platform. I encourage all learners to voice their thoughts on the system so that everyone can feel comfortable with their learning.

The Hybrid Experience – by Sophomore Caryn Gardner

Being a hybrid learner is similar to being a virtual student with only a few differences. With the current pandemic, there have been several changes regarding everyday life and even the school year. When given the opportunity to go back to school, I was eager to say yes. 

In class, the environment is focused and free of distractions. I also appreciate Flint Hill attempting to incorporate aspects of a normal school year during these times. Despite the lack of contact permitted in school, students are still able to experience a hands-on environment when it comes to the curriculum. In my chemistry class, we still conduct experiments and have labs, but we use our own supplies from home or we use a digital form. 

Flint Hill is also considering the safety of the students at all times. Each day, students line up to get their temperature checked in an orderly and socially distanced line. Students then go to their advisory until the day begins. Before each class, all the desks are disinfected and prepped for the incoming class. I also appreciate the time I am able to spend away from school to prevent vulnerability. Being at school is a risk, but Flint Hill has made the environment safe and I can focus on school and not the uncertainties. 

A special aspect of Flint Hill is the extracurricular activities like community service opportunities, games, dances, etc. Unfortunately, those activities are limited, but Flint Hill has made it where students can still participate in activities that aren’t just academic. At this time last year, homecoming would have occurred. To make up for the lack of activities, we were still able to dress up for Spirit Week.  I am sure Flint Hill will have other alternatives for events that cannot happen due to the pandemic. 

A feature I miss from my previous year at Flint Hill is the rotating schedule. This year, I have all of my classes every day at the same time, contrary to last year when I only had five classes a day in a different order. An advantage of the rotating schedule is the time you have to complete homework with quality. This year, I feel teachers are trying to overcompensate for the time we are not in school, which doesn’t allow enough time for students to put in their best effort. 

Overall, I enjoy hybrid learning and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is willing to take part in it. The environment is free of distractions, safe, and it still incorporates some of the fun from last year. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds.