Make Room for Zoom: Distance Learning and the Use of Online Platforms

The 2020-2021 school year began much differently than it has in past years. The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced both students and faculty to adapt to the new reality of distance learning and all the online programs that make learning at home possible. Platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams have proven essential for this new online setup in ways that could never have been predicted just nine months ago. Learning to navigate this new technology has been challenging, especially for teachers.


“There is a lot of new technology that we as teachers…and the administration had to learn to use and we had to adapt too in a short amount of time,” said Albert Alvarez, a history teacher at Fair Lawn High School.


Starting in March of 2020, teachers at Fair Lawn had to quickly adapt from working in an in-person setting to one that is completely remote, leading to changes in lesson planning, preparation, and instruction. 


“I had to transfer a lot of my material into a digital format, I had to adapt my style of questions, and I had to adapt the way I taught to benefit the new online environment,” Alvarez said.


Even with all of these radical changes in the teaching environment, some have pointed to a couple of upsides to distance learning.


“I can really personalize things, as opposed to everybody being out on the field at the same time,” said Dawn Ebner, a physical education teacher at Fair Lawn High School.


Students have also learned to adapt, many of whom continue to remain fully remote, even after the district transitioned to phase 2 of its reopening with hybrid learning on October 19th


“I miss my friends in school which is hard, and staying on the computer all day is a challenge as well,” said a Sophomore at Fair Lawn High School.


Some students, however, say they prefer distance learning in the remote setting.


“I feel like with distance learning, I am able to manage my time more efficiently and I know where to find my assignments,” said another Sophomore at Fair Lawn High School.


“Even though I do enjoy Distance Learning, I can't wait till I can finally go back to school,” said a sophomore attending Fair Lawn High School who utilized the option to return to school in person.


Since October 19th, students and faculty have been able to return to the school building, albeit with new rules and regulations in place to help maintain a healthy and safe learning environment. However, as the country moves into a second wave of Covid-19 cases, and as we are still months away from wide-spread distribution of a vaccine, districts across the state and country will continue to struggle with sporadic, localized school shutdowns in order to help stymie the spread of the virus among its student body, faculty, and community.

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