The School Closing and Distance Learning!

Distance Learning is an Absolute Game Changer.

Jasper Nusbaum

Prior to Rye basketball’s Class A Section Semifinal win last night over Pearl River at the County Center in White Plains, I witnessed Hastings fans leaving the County Center after their Class B semifinal and celebrating not only their win but their school shutting down as well. Mount Vernon wasn’t far behind and became the second public school to shut down. Three Westchester private schools had already closed their doors and now public schools are joining in on the fun.

Going back to last night, many students, faculty, and members of the Rye community were at the county center in White Plains for the basketball game. According to the NY Times, three of the children who tested positive for the Corona Virus attend the Westchester Torah Academy in White Plains, N.Y. Obviously, those children are currently in quarantine, but the virus spreads rapidly and one has to wonder if it was present last night.

Moving forward… Let’s assume, for the sake of this article, that Rye follows in the footsteps of other Westchester schools and decides to close its doors. First, the faculty are informed and the news begins to spread (probably faster than the virus itself). Eventually, the students are contacted… They’re fired up. Then the realization sets in… It’s time for that thing we’ve been hearing about: Distance Learning.

Honestly, I’m pumped for distance learning. My friends and I have been joking about playing Xbox together at 10 am while on Google Hangout for our fourth-period class. While this may not be a reality (wink-wink), I do love the idea of classes becoming more efficient. Other than 40 minutes of PowerPoint notes, classes very rarely have 40 full minutes of learning, however; the class is still a full 40 minutes long. With distance learning, I assume this won’t be the case and the length of a class will be determined by the amount of work/learning and not by the time between two bells.

Onto the classes themselves… What’s the plan? Will teachers assign notes (via textbook or PowerPoint) and require students to submit an assignment based on those notes, or will teachers attempt to go through the notes with the students? If teachers decide to do the latter, will it be in live time over Google Hangout or will they post a video of themselves teaching to Google Classroom?

If I were a teacher, the idea of being able to record myself teaching a class and posting it for all my classes is a dream scenario. Rather than going through the same notes or teaching the same thing for four classes in a single day, I could do it once and post it to the classroom. This would also benefit the students as they would have the ability to rewind the video if they missed something, skip to specific areas, or watch it multiple times to gain the best possible understanding. All of these are things that can’t be done during a standard class.

My main point I’m trying to get at is that the concept of distance learning– in the short run– is almost ideal… As long as everyone is prepared to shift from the classrooms to their couches, manages to stay healthy, and has food in their fridge, the school shutting down should be a great time.