Quarantine Schedule

This week, I want to talk about what I’m actually doing during quarantine. Going through my previous blogs, I realized I’d never actually talked about how my schedule has changed. I’ve talked about how it’s affected my school life, but not my personal one. In this blog, I want to share what I’ve been doing during this Coronavirus crisis. 

The most obvious to change to me is definitely the time I wake up, and by extension how meals are eaten. During a normal school day, I usually wake up at 8:00am to eat breakfast, most of the time two slices of toast with something on it. However, with quarantine going on I’ve been eating healthier and getting more sleep. During weekdays, I still get up at around 8:00am if it’s my turn to clear out the dishwasher, but if it isn’t I sleep in until whenever breakfast starts. During these breakfasts, my family usually eats something different everyday, which I’m thankful for. I like the variety, as eating just toast can get rather boring. There was even a time I helped out a bit, though I don’t know how much help rolling out dough and decorating a pizza counts for. Maybe, I should try helping out more. I don’t think I’d mind if things remained fresh and interesting. 

After breakfast, is school from whenever breakfast ends to 3:35pm. During actual school, there are set block of time for each subject. I tried sticking to this for the first week, when we actually started getting work. However, I threw that schedule out the window and began working at my own pace. What I found is this format of getting through the day was a mixed bag. Most days it works out well, other times not so much. When I started working at my own pace, I realized my own time management was really important. If I have assignments or upcoming tests, I needed to mark them down. When I’m at school, everyone is doing the same work, so it’s easy to keep track of what needs to be done. When I’m at home, the only reminder is a calendar or a post on Google Classroom. Over the course of the quarantine I’ve gotten better with my time management, but there are still sometimes things that slip my mind. It during these time, I usually scramble to get work done later in the day. 

Anyhow, after school is my free time. Since I wasn’t the most active person in the world, I didn’t get out often. As such, this quarantine hasn’t really affected my hobbies, but it has certainly given me more time to enjoy them. Most of my days are spent reading, though I do enjoy the occasional game every now and again. I’m tried out a 3DS game with an emulator, and I’ve powered through a series of books I’ve been enjoying online. However, I’ve probably spent the majority of my time browsing FanFiction.net. Unfortunately, this new life style has sort of created a disconnect from my classmates. 

Surprising, I haven’t really contacted any of my friends. Not that it’s particularly a problem for me. All the games I play are single player, and most of the material a read is only liked by me. Though it doesn’t mean I don’t miss talking to them. During the few times I’ve joined a Discord group call, I’ve only managed to meet one of my friends. 

Regardless of the upsides, I still miss school to an extent. Although, this is mainly because of the fact I wouldn’t need to create my own schedule anymore. Over the course of this quarantine, I’ve learned time management isn’t my particular strong suit. However, that doesn’t stop me from trying to affectively use alarms and my calendar. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like I’ll need to continue for much longer. Schools are set to open in about a week, and a part of me is quite exited. 

Online Learning

This week, I wanted to give an update on online learning. This is a topic I’ve covered before, but a lot has happened since then. Today, I’ll be explaining how teachers are coping with Coronavirus and what I think of their teaching. 

It might not be surprising, but we can’t exactly go to school. However, that can’t stop learning and teachers now needed a medium to teach through. Fortunately, prior to Coronavirus they already had a pretty good one in place. In most classes, we use a website called Google Classroom. It allows teacher to post reminders, work, and assignments. Unfortunately, most teachers were only using Google Classroom for the former. Out of my four classes this semester, three of them uses this website. Out of those three, only two posted work. What I’m trying to say is, a rapid transition to e-learning was needed to made and it wasn’t really made smoothly. 

The week after March break was the most desolate. There was no contact at all, and it was hard to get answers to what was going on. A week later, your school email would be flooded with notifications. During this time, I noticed two ways teachers were posting. The first method was a mass dumping of information. This is when a teacher posted multiple lessons at once and wants them done by a certain time. The second, is a more hands approach by the teacher were they post a lesson every single day. Personally, I prefer the latter as I think it’s a lot more organized and controlled. With mass dumping of information, it’s a lot harder to sort out all the work. On the other hand, when a teacher posts one lesson a day, things are a lot more streamlined. All questions that day are related to the one lesson, and the teacher doesn’t need to worry about organizing question for specific lessons. The only problem with posting a lesson each day is that the teacher needs to be actively involved. To summarize, mass dumping of information isn’t good. It confuses students and the only benefit is that teacher only need to be active during their office hours, which is when teachers get on to answer questions.

Fortunately, courses that do employ the mass dumping technique try to soften the blow with online tutorials. The most obvious contenders for this are the courses that revolve around computer programs, examples being Photoshop, AutoCAD, and VisualStudios. I’m fine with a few tutorials to allow students to get a better understanding of the program. However, there is a point where I begin to wonder if I could just teach myself the entire course. Teachers are meant to guide students, and I don’t really feel that in the tutorials. The only time I really interact with teacher during this quarantine are when I have a question, and sometimes I can’t even get an answer. 

If this is what online is like, I feel bad for future generations of students. Regardless of how a teacher posts lessons, they should at least teach them in some way. However with quarantine going on, they can’t do that. If a teacher can’t teach what’s the point? At this rate, students might as well go off on to learn on their own and only come together for assessments. I don’t like it, but that’s the vibe I’m getting from the constant posting of tutorials and short responses I get out of teachers. At first I thought maybe they could conduct mass conference calls for lessons. Those who want to learn can join, those who don’t can just read the lesson on their own time. However, that isn’t happening. The only reason I talk to my teacher nowadays is to ask question, and I could probably get the same or better answers from Reddit

Overall, I understand the necessity for students to work on our own. We’ll need to be independent at some point after all. However, if that is the case, it just makes we wonder what’s the point of a teacher? If they’re there to answer questions, the internet can answer most of them. If they’re there to point out good resources, the internet is full of websites and videos for that. And if they’re there to assess our learning, I think there’ll be programs in the future doing just that. I use to think teachers were safe from robots taking over their jobs, but I think the internet already has.

Fire Emblem Fates

Last week, I downloaded a game called Fire Emblem Fates (FEF). I haven’t finished the game, but today I feel confident enough to at least share my thoughts on it. 

First, what is Fire Emblem Fates? Well, it’s a tactical RPG, a type of game similar to chess. In chess you have a bunch of pieces, and in the game you have a bunch of pieces called units. The goal of the game is to use these units to defeat the AI’s pieces. We repeat this process until we beat the game, but FEF is much deeper than that. Each unit is unique, with their own strength, skill, personalities, and weakness. 

Besides the gameplay, there is the story. For most Fire Emblem games, their story is a core piece of the game as a whole. In FEF’s case, the story is relatively simple. The game revolves around a war between two countries, Nohr and Hoshido. Nohr is a vast empire seeking expansionism, while Hoshido is a peaceful country preferring isolation. It’s quite easy to see how these two countries would be at odds. However, the twist that makes the story a lot more intriguing is the protagonist, your own character. As a prince/princess that was born into the Hoshido royal family but grew up in Nohr’s royal family, you as the protagonist have a connection to both sides of the war. Now, the player has to chose a side. 

It’s a very interesting idea, and a plot that I think could work out well. Unfortunately, there’s just one problem, the protagonist. Unlike the last FE game I played, the protagonist doesn’t really go through a character arc. The protagonist from beginning to end, didn’t feel engaging. In the route I’m playing in, the protagonist is fighting against the family he grew up with. However, the protagonist doesn’t seem affected by the deaths of his family. Perhaps it’s just my nitpicking, but the story doesn’t seem all too engaging. 

In Fire Emblem Three Houses, another FE game I’ve played, the player could make radical changes and determine the fate of an entire continent. Each of the four routes the story took in Three Houses was different and engaging. No matter what you do, you’re forced to kill units you grew connected to during the first act. In comparison, Fire Emblem Fates has you fight against a family that you barely have any knowledge of. As the player, you’re not invested into the characters of the opposing side. It’s only when you’ve played through both routes do you have any emotional connection the characters. Three Houses gives you an entire act to bond with units, while Fates needs you make that bond in few section for any emotional impact. 

Rather than the story, I find my decision for choosing a side is more swayed by units and classes. Like most games that release with two versions, there is some kind of version exclusivity for each one. In this case, each version has their own units and classes. If you pick one version for a certain set of units, you won’t have access to the other half. However, the most important factor is likely the difficulty. Conquest, the route that follows Nohr is much harder than Hoshido’s route. The reason for this is because Conquest there is no grinding for experience or money. In Birthright, the route that follows Hoshido, you can make your units stronger in a safe environment. You can’t do this in Conquest. This is particularly important, because in all Fire Emblem games once a unit is gone, they’re gone for good. With very few exceptions, there are no revivals. In cases like Conquest, resource management is much more important.

Overall, Fire Emblem Fates is still a fun game. Compared to Fire Emblem Three Houses, I have to say Fates is the lesser of the two. However, that doesn’t take away from the characters of Fates. Three Houses just had a better story and protagonist, the only two downsides for me in Fates.

Online VS Face to Face Tutoring

For the past few months, I’ve taken on a tutor for math and more recently chemistry as well. However, with Coronavirus spreading like wildfire, almost everyone around the globe has been stuck in their home. Unfortunately, this also include myself and my tutors eliminating face to face sessions. Fortunately, with the power of the internet, we can continue our lessons through Skype and other similar software. In todays blog, I’ll be talking about the differences between face to face and online.

To start off, I’ll begin taking about the positives of face to face and negatives of online sessions. The first positive to this type of tutoring is crystal clear communication. Unlike with Skype, there is no lag or other forms of interruptions. In addition, you’re also able to use paper or hand gestures to help describe your thought process. Of course, you can hold up a piece of paper to the camera or adjust your camera respectively. However, it is much easier to have the person you’re talking to you in front of you. Another benefit of face to face session is the ability to take notes. With recent sessions, I find myself and the tutor referencing the textbook more often than we previously did. I think the reason for this is because it has become much harder for the tutor to give me notes. When we conducted previous math lessons, she would write notes on a blank piece of paper and reference the textbook only when necessary. I can still write down notes and take screenshots, however it’s just not the same.

Alternatively, there is also online tutoring. Despite the negatives of online learning, there are also quite a few positives. One of them being the ability to conduct lessons on the fly. Unlike face to face sessions, it is really easy to schedule sessions on both ends, especially with current world events as they are. There is no travel time, thus no time wasted if a lesson is suddenly cancelled or pushed back. Another added benefit of online sessions, is accurate time management. During face to face sessions, you need some sort of timer to keep track of time. Without an accurate way to keep track of time, the session may end a bit early or go over. However, with a call, you easily look at how long the lessons has taken.  

Out of these two, I honestly prefer face to face lessons. Despite the amount of effort it takes to plan those sessions, I find I get more information out of them. I also find looking at paper notes rather then a bunch of screenshots much easier. For example, just a few days ago, in my math lesson we’ve moved on to graphing. As one would expect, graphing involves drawing graphs. However, it’s quite hard to see what’s happening on a white board through the lens of a camera. In the end, the tutor and I just ended up using the textbook for learning about different types of graphs. Regardless, I really miss the detailed examples and notes. 

Overall, there are benefits and negatives to both forms of tutoring. I prefer face to face conversations and note taking, while others may prefer a more hands off approach. In any case, this Coronavirus has let me experience both worlds of tutoring. However, not in the way I would’ve liked. Regardless, this virus still doesn’t look like going to be going away any time soon.