Online Learning During COVID-19 Pandemic Comes With Positive and Negative Effects

While at-home schooling has created new challenges for families, researchers say there have been some benefits for typically underserved communities.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, K-12 education has been conducted largely online for more than a year. Researchers are examining the impact on kids.

Kristin Fontichiaro, University of Michigan School of Information clinical associate professor, recently co-wrote an editorial piece in the Journal of Children and Media on how remote learning has blurred the line between school and home life. She says the implications of that transition are starting to be recognized.

“There seems to be a sizable appetite for online learning for some students that will extend beyond the pandemic.” — Kristin Fontichiaro, University of Michigan

“Children are very good at sort of code switching between home and school,” says Fontichiaro. “Now what’s happening is that home and school are colliding in new ways.”

Racial Disparities

Fontichiaro says researchers are finding that many Black and Latinx families feel their children are doing better in an at-home setting. She says that may be due to the nature of online learning lessening racial disparities and microaggressions.

“I think this has opened up a whole new avenue,” says Fontichiaro, “for public education to really think at scale not only about its strengths that it will bring to the table when folks come back to school, but also repairs that need to be made.”

Despite the benefits, Fontichiaro says expanded online learning for minority groups in a post-pandemic world could potentially risk worsening inequities.

“There seems to be a sizable appetite,” says Fontichiaro, “for online learning for some students that will extend beyond the pandemic.”

Listen: Clinical associate professor Kristin Fonitchiaro discusses the effects of online schooling during the COVID pandemic.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.