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The myth of diminished learning during quarantine

Jewish Post

Originally Posted: May 29, 2020

As a professor at SMU Dallas, I am saddened by mainstream media’s myopic view of pandemic-induced online education.

Whether it be op-eds about students receiving inferior educations in virtual classrooms or stories about parents suing colleges for “not getting their money’s worth,” public discourse lacks an alternative perspective.

My own experience is quite the opposite. I witnessed an increase in student engagement and performance in my admittedly small classes afforded by a private university for my students who were unburdened by medical or socio-economic stress. My experience is not isolated but is echoed anecdotally by numerous colleagues in various parts of the nation. Deprived of non-academic distractions, many of my students became virtually monastic (pun intended). With more attention focused on their schoolwork, their work was more thoughtful, introspective, and contemplative. Deep thinking became the norm rather than the exception.

Consider the iconic Zoom class, which became the symbol of education in the age of coronavirus. The awkwardness of me fumbling with the technology elicited forbearance and support from students who never used to speak up.

In an online class of fewer than 25 students, all of them have front row seats; there is no escaping to the back of the room for anonymity. With college students, it turns out, a healthy measure of surveillance actually works. READ MORE