Campus View: An Interview with Farah Hasan

Philippe Ernewein, Director of Education
Reflections on Teaching and Learning: 
An interview with Student Technology Advisory Committee Member, Farah Hasan

For a number of years, we’ve had a Student Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) on campus at DA. This is a group of students representing grades 6 - 12 that meet with me (Philippe Ernewein), Anthony Slaughter (Director of IT) and Dr. Mindy Adair (Director of Mathematics & Technology Integration). Prior to distance learning, we met in Richardson Hall on Thursdays for lunch. We have continued to have these meetings, now on Wednesdays, via Google Hangouts. Their insight, experience, and passion have been tremendously valuable during the last few months. They have given specific feedback on scheduling and curriculum, as well as input on strategies and the usabilty and functionality of specific tools. Our meetings are often the highlight of my week - the STAC consistently amazes me with their passion for learning and creativity.
With this post I want to share an interview conducted with one of the STAC members, Freshman Farah Hasan. Enjoy!
Question: What have been some things that you are doing to stay active during DA Distance Learning?
FH: If I’m being completely honest, I haven’t been doing much. On the days when the weather is good, I go for a walk around the neighborhood with my family. 

Question: What have you noticed are the most significant differences between screentime on campus versus screentime during Distance Learning? 
FH: Oh, definitely. When we were on campus, instruction, discussions, and in-class assignments weren’t on the computer. Now all of that is online rather than just the homework. My free time screen time has stayed the same, but since I’m on my computer for an additional eight hours (a solid 10 hours in total), I have been experiencing frequent headaches and eye strains which makes it hard to focus. 
Question: What are some actions/steps you've taken to address this increased stress of eyestrain and associated headaches?
FH: I’ve been taking Advil, drinking lots of water, and have been more conscious of looking up for about 20-30 seconds to rest my eyes. My doctor taught me a technique to look up from my screen and look at a wall from very far away about every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. I try to keep Advil as a last resort, but if it gets to a point where I can’t focus at all, I will take it.
{Mr. Ernewein, “Yes, Farah, and it is also perfectly OK to turn the computer off - yes, definitely turn it off - not all learning (and teaching) has to take place in front of the screen - not at all.”}
Question: Can you identify what you think are the top three skills and/or strategies that students need to have to be successful with Distance Learning - and how can teachers best support this?
FH: I think to advocate, being in tune with your body, and being patient are the skills you need to be successful during this weird time. Advocating is important both on campus and online, but now if you don’t understand something, it’s especially important that you email a teacher. They won’t be around campus to help you during lunch or after school, so reach out before you get frustrated! As I mentioned before, I really try to be in tune with my body. If I’m getting a headache or getting frustrated, I try to identify it as early as possible so I can take a break. If you push yourself too far you probably won’t get a lot done. And lastly, be as patient as possible. This is new to everyone. We are all trying to figure out this whole distance learning thing. Trust that your teachers and classmates are doing the best they can do. I can’t speak towards how teachers can best support everyone, but reach out to them and let them know how they can best support you! I’m sure they would be more than happy to help. They have been doing an amazing job so far, and I’m sure they will continue to do so. 
More information about the Student Technology Advisory Committee (STAC). Members: Trevor Wilson, Anthony Allmaras, Colin Munroe, Farah Hasan, Jed Bloomberg, Blake Petersen, Charlotte Zwick. Advisors: Anthony Slaughter, Director of IT, Dr. Mindy Adair, Director of Mathematics & Technology Integration Specialist, and Philippe Ernewein, Director of Education.