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COVID-19 & Online Learning, What Are Students Saying?

Over the past several weeks many schools, even though shut down because of COVID-19, have pivoted to online learning in an attempt to keep their students academically engaged. Given this fact, we decided to ask those who follow us on Instagram (mostly teens across Canada and the USA), about their online education experience thus far, given this new teaching pedagogy.

We decided to ask students two questions that we thought would provide some insight. This is in no way a scientific poll, but we believe this honest feedback from students may help teachers when it comes to designing new digital lesson plans, and more importantly how to engage with their students online. We have integrated some of the replies from students into this article, but have blurred any personal identifiable information.

Question #1: For those who are now learning online at home, what do you like and what don’t you like:

Common Themes from Students:


  • They can learn at their own pace and on their own schedule.

  • They can integrate school time with family time.


  • Much easier to get distracted from learning while at home than in school.

  • Lack of schedule, structure, and routine when it comes to online learning.

  • Concepts are not fully explained online, as they are face-to-face in school.

  • Some platforms being used can’t see friends and they wish they could.

  • Frustrated that some are having to use multiple conferencing platforms depending upon the teacher.

  • Would like sessions to be recorded so that they can refer back to the information taught at a later date.

  • Sometimes educators teaching are not the ones they are used to which can cause anxiety.

It was clear to us that students are emotionally, psychologically, physically, and socially missing the human factor that schools can offer when compared to online digital learning. It was also very clear to us that many are frustrated, as are many teachers, over this new online learning pedagogy that they have been thrust into out of necessity.

Question #2: If you were going to recommend to your teacher how to make the online teaching experience better, what would you recommend?

Common Themes From Students:

  • They would prefer to have teachers at their school use the same video conferencing platform, rather than multiple platforms, whatever that platform may be.

  • Maybe pick one or two sessions a week where it’s more social, but stay focused on learning objectives on the majority.

  • Minimize the number of online sessions per day, given that this is so new and it takes time to acclimatize to this new way of learning.

  • That it’s ok for educators to make a mistake in the use of technology for home learning given that we are all learning right now.

  • Go slow. Just because it’s online and most students are familiar with technology doesn’t mean that this new teaching/learning is easy. Try to avoid information overload.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask students for their help.

  • Create time in the presentation for questions, rather than having people just ask randomly throughout which is very distracting.

  • Make it fun (for both teacher and students), don’t over plan and don’t be too quick with the mute button.

It was clear to us that students, although frustrated, get it and are willing to give their teachers “student passes” when it comes to making mistakes specific to online learning. It was also just as clear to us that students want to help their teachers in utilizing this new teaching pedagogy to create structure, all they need to do is ask. In other words, encourage your students to become the teacher, which can be a win/win for all.

Again, the purpose of this posting is to give educators some anecdotal insight as to what students have been experiencing, specific to online learning, for the past couple of weeks. We are hoping that this feedback may be of some assistance to educators during these challenging times.

Thank you to all the teens who took the time to reply to our Instagram poll. We have the best followers, and you prove again and again how important your feedback can be when it comes to this onlife world!

The White Hatter Team