Riordan embraces online learning—new trend in American education system


Illustration by Miles Poon '20

A Crusader online performing distance learning tasks. Some hidden Riordan objects are on display. How many can you find?

Jordan Noeuku , Staff Reporter

As school remains closed until at least May 3, teachers, counselors, and administrators are  taking action to ensure that students still stay on task and satisfy their thirst for knowledge during the coronavirus-led shelter in place. 

Teachers are using many different methods to assist their students on a daily basis via technology. Distance learning can be just as effective as in person instruction because classes are still being conducted on apps and other means like Zoom, where teachers and students visually interact and get work done.

Social Science Department Chair Christopher Fern said, “I think distance-learning is the most practical way to continue learning and growing at this time. It most certainly is going to help students keep some level of structure and focus. The main challenges are making the transition from getting that quality face time with students to it being digital. I have tried to upload a few YouTube videos to try to make up for it, but I really miss seeing and hearing my students.”   

Fern added, “Reading typed messages about content naturally leads to less of their individual personalities being able to come out, because they are so focused on completing their tasks, which is good, but is definitely different. I have been exceptionally proud of the way my students have continued to put their time and energies into the tasks I have assigned them during this time. And the ones that took longer to start, were very mature in their communications with me about what challenges were leading them to not complete the tasks on time.”

Distance-learning is the most practical way to continue learning and growing at this time.”

— Chris Fern, Social Science Department Chair


Fern talked about his own personal experience with online learning, saying, “My experience with distance learning is basically just in my grad school program that I just completed for school administration. I had numerous online courses during the summer, where we had weekly modules of assignments, and specific times we had to do Zoom video sessions as classes.” 

He offered this advice: “I find that my own experience with online learning took a little bit to get myself focused and come up with a routine and schedule for completing tasks, but once I started putting all assignments on my calendar it made it much easier for me to go through systematically and complete the tasks in order. I have been doing regular posts on Schoology, as well as doing a couple of YouTube videos, ‘Learn with Fern,’ each week.” 

Science teacher Thomas Harlan said, distance learning can work but “it depends on how much the students put in. I can no longer hand hold you through your learning process as if we were at school. It is now up to the students to take their learning upon themselves, and allow the teachers to guide your learning in a certain direction.”

Harlan said, “Students not doing the work is the biggest challenge right now. Also, students not taking the time to read all the directions is another problem I am seeing. But, most students seem to be handling the transition well.”

Harlan also has experience with online learning, and said, “I currently am in an online masters program, so yes I am very familiar with it. I think that this online model for high school is ok, but students do not know how to work from home. I think the students will get their work done, but the quality will not be as high as if we were in the classroom.” 

Luke Tassio ’21 said, “I think distance learning is something that needs a little more work. It’s hard to get work done when all of your teachers are throwing work at you. I don’t like that I am not able to see my friends and I feel like that kinda makes it difficult to learn.”

He added, “Now, I can work at my own pace, which is great, but I really dislike quarantine.”

David Nori ’21 said, “I think distance learning is ok at best. I usually get my stuff done from 10am -1pm. I don’t contact teachers. I just put up some music and grind through all the work.  Quarantine is fine, but just a little boring at times.”

Dean of Academics Michael O’Brien said, “We have received a lot of feedback that some students are doing well and others are overwhelmed. We realize students got a lot of assignments all at once and we thought of a better way to give them information they need as a module was developed on March 30, where students will be given work ahead of time so that they have extra time to work on.”

O’Brien added, “I didn’t have any online classes when I was in college, and it is something new that we need to implement in our system of education.”