E-Learning puts strains on social interactions and affects student motivation

Lauren Dyer and Lucy Cho

Walking into class on a test day, senior Zach Uhlig used to hear loud conversation and laughter as his classmates quizzed each other on review questions and cracked jokes to lighten the mood before they settled into their seats to take the test. Uhlig now feels exhausted without these interactions during E-Learning.

“Normally [on a test day], everyone would be huddled around the class being all nervous together, but now you get to be by yourself and nervous. 

“I think it makes it extremely tough to do school with the same effort level and same drive as before,” Uhlig said in a video conference.

Educational Researcher Dr. Colleen Halupa said in a phone interview that being online can lead to a decrease in engagement in learning among high school students if they lack the emotional maturity to complete E-Learning tasks independently.

“You’re doing [E-Learning] more on your own,”said Halupa.“It requires a lot more persistence, it requires a lot more motivation.”

According to Uhlig, E-Learning has been draining due to the lack of in-person social interaction.

“It’s hard to get to know someone when you’re not in person,” said Uhlig. “You just miss out on a lot of the physical cues. Those are pretty much nonexistent [online].”

Dr. Desiree Dickerson, clinical psychologist and specialist in academic mental health, said in an email correspondence that the lack of nonverbal cues online requires students to spend more mental energy reading interactions. Online meetings also allow for more distractions such as phones, family members and the ability to see oneself in meetings.

  “We can see ourselves interacting [on screen] and we, either consciously or unconsciously, monitor that a lot,” Dickerson said.

Teachers can help reduce these negative effects of E-Learning by allowing students to turn off their cameras when not necessary and by incorporating asynchronous learning to give them a break from online interaction, Dickerson said. 

Students can take care of their mental and emotional health by watching themselves for these warning signs: unwillingness to engage with learning, changes in behavior and mood or changes in sleeping or eating patterns.


“If you find yourself really not wanting to engage with the session or class and/or find yourself simply exhausted at the end of the day, it is probably worthwhile to explore why,” said Dickerson. “Talk with someone about it.”

According to Uhlig, what he misses most about in-person learning are funny moments in class that would make everyone laugh.

“I’m by myself, staring at my computer screen, my eyes hurt all the time.

“So having those moments in person where someone says something stupid and everyone laughs [would be] great,” Uhlig said.