How’s Remote Learning From Remote Lands?


Over the past year, many UNIS students have chosen to do fully remote learning. For some, it was the distance from their home to school that impacted their choice. There are students currently living in places all over the world, such as China, Canada, Tunisia, or other parts of the United States, like California. They join classes every day from abroad, which makes their learning experience much different than that of the other students’. Today we’ll be looking into what going to school is like for them.

To start off, let’s take a look at how many students are or have been studying online. Right now, these numbers are only around 10 students per grade, but this wasn’t always the same. Mr. Delaitre explained that at the beginning of the year, the percentage of students fully remote in Tutorial House was about 15%. It then spiked between Thanksgiving and Winter Break when several cases led to the quarantine of many students, and then eventually the whole school. This caused the administration to have to cancel December exams. After the winter break, it augmented again (mostly with T4s) to a maximum of 30% (≈40% in T4) around mid-January. These numbers may seem very large, but according to Mr. Delaitre, they “are much higher at other full IB schools in NY, such as Léman and Dwight.” In February, it came down to 22%, where it remained consistent until we all came back to school.

Numbers don’t give us the full picture though, which is why in order to get the best look into this experience, we need to hear from the students living it. One of the major changes for most of them has been their sleep schedules. Adapting to different time zones might not have been easy at first, but by now, these students can handle it! You might think that with the 12-hour difference that those studying in China have, they must feel very sleep-deprived. However, Jia Zhong, a T2 student who is experiencing precisely this situation, assures that “I sleep eight hours every day.” Yet, because she is active at night and sleeping during the day, her levels of energy aren’t very high. For others like Mikhail Vasilevskii (T1), who’s currently in California, “sleeping is the biggest benefit because you don’t have to wake up as early as others.” Some students also like being able to set their own pace while they’re in class and having more time to do homework since they don’t have a commute.

However, there are also cons to their situation. A major one is the amount of screen time they have. As Jia clearly put it, “You have to face your computer all the time.” This is an issue for all students learning online, but for fully remote learners it is further exacerbated. For example, Ma-Sadio Faye (T2) thinks that “there’s not as much support as there would be in person.” Because fully remote students do not have the opportunity to come to school, it’s harder to reach out to teachers for support. Additionally, some of them have to battle with poor internet connection that makes it hard to hear or speak during class.

Though there’s only so much we can do to change these problems, it’s important to remember that for many of these students studying abroad, it is not their choice to be online, and they need help like any other student. As Ma-Sadio states, “I’m doing it because it’s a health concern, but I don’t necessarily like doing it because it’s not as interactive.” Most fully remote students are missing the social component of school; being able to hang out with their friends during break and chatting in class. Even if many of us are back in person, we should make sure that they are not forgotten and try to help with what we can. Behind their screens, there’s a whole different world that we don’t know much about.