LaunchED Vs. Distance Learning


A week long Spring Break, in March of last school year, unexpectedly turned into almost a 3 month leave from school. After the break, as people celebrated the first days off from school, they unknowingly wouldn’t return for the rest of the school year. To handle this, the School Boards put in place Distance Learning. It included working on all your classes from home on your own time and involved hardly any teacher interactions. Doing work at home was self-paced and usually not monitored. You would go on Canvas to your classes in whatever order you’d like to do assignments on your own time. Tests were not monitored either. As school started later in August, they found a new, alternative way to deal with this issue. 

This is when LaunchEd Learning was introduced. There are some similarities in this to Distance Learning. LaunchEd has you follow your regular bell schedule and join BigBlueButton calls with the teacher when each class starts. The tests require you to turn on your camera and show the teacher where your phone is located. You’re still allowed to do assignments on your own time, as long as they’re turned in on the right day. Some say LaunchEd is a more efficient learning system to use than Distance Learning, but others may disagree. 

To see what people thought about these different learning techniques, we interviewed Marrisa Stevenson, a freshman last school year when Distance Learning was first introduced. Her original thoughts about Distance Learning were, “At first I was super excited, I had always wanted to try how well I’d do at virtual learning.” After hearing she was excited about Distance Learning, we then asked how she felt coming back for LaunchEd. She said, “I feel more motivated to do work and to succeed. I now have a new appreciation for school.” We then asked if she thought the option to come back and do LaunchEd was better than the Distance Learning originally put in place. She responded, “I do think LaunchEd is a better choice, some people mentally have a hard time not socializing and seeing new people. I think I fall under that category because I struggled with that and also the actual school work part and teachers.” To also get an idea of different effects switching to Distance Learning could have on people, The Blue and White asked if it had any impacts on friends or family. Marissa stated, “It had a huge effect on my family. I have a pretty big family and my sisters are young and need a lot of attention from their teachers so they can stay on task. Since my mom also works full time it was a challenge making sure we were all doing what we needed to do and not slacking off.” 


Getting another point of view to help see how these different learning methods have affected people, Ms.Meadows, a math teacher at Apopka, answered some of our questions. She started with saying how, “I wasn’t nervous about the Distance Learning aspect. I was interested in all of the new technology. I was also definitely curious to see how everything would work out but I was very concerned that some students would not take their school work seriously or not have the support they needed at home.” We asked her opinion about which learning options she preferred. “I definitely prefer LaunchEd,” she said. “Distance Learning was done in ‘crisis mode’ and we had no training or notice. It did not provide any structure or accountability for students. LaunchEd, while not perfect, is more structured and this is what I feel like students need.” Although she prefers LaunchEd, she can admit they both have had their ups and downs. “In the last school year, Distance Learning provided a means to ensure that our students continued to learn. It permitted us to maintain relationships and to better monitor our students.” She went on to explain some disadvantages of Distance Learning and how students weren’t held accountable when missing work. They didn’t care about deadlines and would frequently cheat. She didn’t think this would prepare students for the future seeing as failing students would end up with high enough scores to pass the whole class. Ms.Meadows also explained the advantages of LaunchEd, saying how, “They are gaining experience with many different skills that will benefit them in the future. Conferencing, presenting, Microsoft PowerPoint, Google, etc. are all skills that will be useful for them in the future. It is also teaching students that being resourceful and flexible are excellent qualities.”

Overall both of these different learning approaches did their best to get the job done and keep students on task. One may be more put together because of the time provided to improve the learning methods for students. It is clear most teachers enjoy the option to be able to see their students during these BigBlueButton calls rather than Distance Learning with no interactions.