On July 18, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that schools within a county on the watchlist can not reopen in-person once the school year starts, according to Business Insider. Since Arnold O. Beckman High School is in Orange County, it was forced to scratch its hybrid plan and went online last-minute to adhere to Gov. Newsom’s policies.
Thursday, Aug. 13, was the first day of school for Beckman High School’s students, including myself, and while I had my doubts, I can say that my experience was quite positive.
Tustin Unified School District implemented an application called Schoology, which allowed students to have all of their classes’ information pages on one screen, all easy-to-access; everything was within one click.
Teachers utilized both Google Meet and Zoom applications to hold the class sessions, and the students were expected to have cameras on — unless a technical difficulty came up — and kept muted to eliminate unnecessary background noises.
I certainly realize many are not “online-learners,” and a traditional classroom setting is a much better fit for learning, which I totally agree with. However, even as a traditional learner myself, my experience using Schoology and having class sessions through Zoom and Google Meet and the interactivity I had with teachers was beyond adequate.
Participation was actually much easier.
I could easily click on the “raise hand” feature on Zoom to catch my teachers’ attention, and when I unmuted myself to speak, my screen automatically moved up to my classmates and my teacher’s main screen, also allowing them to notice me. There was absolutely no reason to lose class materials as everything was updated on Schoology.
Above everything else, I believed that the best feature of online classes was the teachers’ ability to use “breakout rooms.”
Breakout rooms essentially divide the students in the call into different little zoom calls, with a few clicks. Teachers are able to hop onto the different student groups and observe and listen to their discussions as well. This really allowed my classmates and I to connect and collaborate with one another when given a quick group discussion or a group project.
However, of course, there were negatives to online classes as well. Teachers often had disruptions in their internet connection, resulting in breakups, video malfunctions and muting failures. Students as well often had connection issues, not allowing them to join classes on time or find their assignment properly. Because both the teachers and the students’ performance depended on the single connectivity sign at the top of their laptop screens, issues were easily encountered.
As for my physical health, I also found myself finding my eyes and head uncomfortable after looking at a computer screen for consecutive hours. Sitting on a chair for a long time also was not beneficial, and occasional stretches were most definitely necessary.
Overall, I can confidently say that the immense amount of work teachers, administration and other staff members put in to have a successful start to the school shined through. I found myself awing at the positives of my first day of school much more than the negatives. And I definitely thank all of them for that.
I hope that school can return to normal soon, but when we do have to opt for online schooling, let’s give our hardest.