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Student board representative shared survey insights and offered reccomendations

Although the start of the school year saw delays due to poor air quality and evacuations fueled by nearby wildfires, Lake Oswego School District is now back to fully live instruction in its remote classrooms.

Now that school is back on, some students are realizing the lecture format that suited them in the classroom does not translate well online.

During the school board meeting Monday, Sept. 21, Student Board Representative Mete Bakircioglu shared what he's learned from his peers about the virtual learning environment. He said another student, Alex Aghdaei, conducted a voluntary survey to understand the high school student experience in a virtual learning environment.

The survey received a total of 162 responses from Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools.

Aghdaei, Bakircioglu and the other student board representative, Liza Wadell, met with Superintendent Lora de la Cruz, both high school principals and Executive Director of Secondary Programs Lou Bailey to discuss student engagement in a virtual learning setting and present the findings of the survey.

"And some of the takeaways from that meeting was that most students don't feel attentive for the full lecture time in class," Bakircioglu said.

He said most lectures in an LOSD high school class are over 45 minutes long and 66 percent of students surveyed feel they have less than 45 minutes of attention span.

"This incongruency is a major problem for how students are experiencing this education that the district is providing," he said.

He said that lectures are also usually followed by long, independent work periods.

"So it's not super-engaging," Bakircioglu said.

He said that students greatly prefer lessons that are integrated with student-to-student interaction. This might look like 10-minute lectures followed by small group discussions in virtual breakout rooms.

"That helps students feel on top of the content and that helps them feel like more a part of the class rather than a remote listener," he said.

He suggested that students fill out an obligatory survey at the end of class to get a better idea of the student experience in online learning.

He also shared that students have told him the online learning experience has improved since the first week of school and he encouraged students to practice patience going forward.

Board Chair Sara Pocklington thanked Bakircioglu for encouraging patience from his peers.

"We're all learning new ways of doing school this year. It's going to take a little bit of trial and error certainly," she said.

De la Cruz also thanked Bakircioglu for bringing Aghdaei's findings forward.

"What I just so appreciated was that Alex brought solutions. He brought the conundrum and he brought potential solutions," she said. "This is just another example of how student voices are so valuable."

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