• Cory Morrison

Remote learning: Cory’s pros and cons

Updated: Jun 13


A girl uses her laptop in a kitchen
(Photo Credit: Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

Pros


No worries about isolation or bullying.


Too often, when I was younger, I would watch others have fun together. This wasn’t as frequent earlier in elementary, but late elementary into high school was when I mostly felt isolated. At least if I were at home, I wouldn’t have to feel jealous of others’ social successes. I can’t witness them.


If a student were to bully me, a teacher would be right there to handle it. They can see everything that happens on the screen. For example, with recess, this isn’t as easy because there are kids scattered everywhere, with typically only a few teachers on duty.


Parent supervision would have worked well.


When I took ABA therapy in my younger years, my mother would often supervise my therapists to guide them on how to interact with me. She would also work closely with my elementary school teachers and educational assistants to ensure that I could properly learn the material and gain social skills.


If my parents supervised me during remote learning, they would have had an even better idea of how I was handling the learning environments. Also, going back to the previous pro, many children wouldn’t have the gall to bully others in front of their parents.


Computer learning is fun.


My favourite free time activity in elementary school was to play on the computer. A simple game time on Sammy’s Science House, Kid Pix, Hyper Studio, or Math Circus was often enough to recharge me after long lessons.


To think that my entire instruction would have been on a screen back then when I loved computers would have fascinated me. Of course, this fixation would have stopped me from attending the lessons at times, but I would have been more eager to take part in activities.

I would also get excited to learn about new technology features. When I learned about email, online games, forums and new computer games back in my elementary years, my excitement would peak. Seeing my school friends and teachers on a screen for the first time would have meant a major “Wow” from me. Of course, technology wasn’t that advanced back in those days.


No fire alarms


As people on the spectrum, me included, are often sensitive to loud noises, one of my least favourite parts of school was hearing the fire alarm. My high school did not have particularly loud fire alarms (It has two campuses), but my elementary schools and preschool did.


At one point in elementary school, I asked my educational assistants if they could let me know in advance if there was going to be an expected fire drill. This worked out well for me. Although unexpected fire drills are inevitable, these were the ones that especially bothered me. It’s the surprise loud noise that gets to me. The most memorable fire drill for me was in grade seven when a washroom hand dryer broke. Smoke came out.


At least with practice fire drills at home, I wouldn’t only know it’s coming, but I would have been able to tell exactly when it was. The noise probably wouldn’t have been as loud, either.



Cons


Fewer social interactions


Back in my ABA days, the single most important thing to my family was that I was gaining social skills with others. I didn’t always know what to say at appropriate times during social situations. I needed adults to remind me to say “thank you” when another child gave me a toy or say hello back whenever someone said hi to me. Play interaction with LEGO, for example, wouldn’t be quite the same on screen as it would in person.


Also, recess is a time to especially develop good social interactions with peers, which would be hard with virtual learning. In other words, I could have developed some skill with conversing with others in structured situations, but unstructured social situations would have been harder for me if I didn’t expose myself to them.


The change would have been tough.


No matter how stressful school was for me, if I were a student in March 2020, I would have been crushed to learn that I would spend the rest of my school year at home. Some neurotypical children might be able to handle this sudden change well, but my autistic self wouldn’t have dealt with it well. I would have likely thrown a tantrum over not actually seeing people.


Learning new methods would have been hard.


One of my biggest weaknesses in elementary school was adjusting to new material. The more familiar I was with something, the more independent I could be with it. For example, my marks early in elementary were higher in reading and math than in other areas because I acquired these skills during ABA therapy.


I especially recall long division, using a protractor and certain science and social studies units being abnormally hard for me. This is because I wasn’t previously familiar with these topics. Many other children could easily learn new things fast, but I couldn’t.


Apply this to the remote learning environment and I would have had a hard time learning how to hand assignments in, for example.


Frustration with technology


Although not entirely related to autism, if something on my computer weren’t working, I would have felt overwhelmed at the possibility of failing an assignment because I didn’t hand it in on time. Remote learning can increase the odds that this may happen.

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