As we all know, the end of this school year was a little strange. No one expected the virus to come in as strong as it did, and certainly no one expected for our two weeks off from school to turn into the rest of the year. With that said, there was not much preparation involved, and virtual learning was being taken one step at a time.
In the beginning, the teachers were unaware of the platforms they could use to get the schoolwork out there, but as time went on, it was clear that there were advancements. Before school closed I heard murmurings of some teachers using Zoom to teach the students. Zoom is a platform that was originally intended for businesses to have video conferences. It is essentially facetime with many people. By using Zoom, the teachers would be able to interact with the students and teach them lessons in person. However, the virus approached too quickly for many teachers to set up and get familiar with the platform in time. Instead, most teachers used Google Classroom. This meant that rather than getting taught from the teachers “face to face,” students would just receive the assignments. The teachers tried their best to give us resources to use, such as textbooks and powerpoints, and they always encouraged them to email them with questions. As time progressed, some teachers started to do screencasts and YouTube videos. This made it a little easier to learn the material since the teachers were able to talk directly to the students as if they were teaching in class. It was progress from Google Classroom, but there was still no option for the students to communicate back to the teacher. Finally, by around early April, I got my first notification of a possible Google Meet. Google Meet is a new platform that acts as Zoom or group facetime would. It was finally a way to get back and forth interaction. It was the closest thing to being in a classroom. According to the district, these meetings had to be made optional, and students were allowed to mute themselves and turn off their cameras whenever they liked. While these Google Meets did not replace Google Classroom, it was a way for the students to ask questions, review material, and engage with one another.
Now that I talked about how virtual learning operated at CNHS, I will talk about my experience with it. Oddly enough, I actually really enjoy virtual learning. Compared to the six hour school day, virtual learning takes me an average of 3-4 hours a day. I also feel that it saves me a lot more work because we don’t have any “homework.” Whatever work we do during the day, it is us trying to make up for the missed work in school, not homework. So, instead of getting two assignments a day from a teacher, now we only have one. I also love the fact that I can schedule my day how I want. I can wake up whenever, eat whenever, take a break whenever, and stay up as late as I would as if it were a weekend. There are no such “school nights.” I feel lucky compared to my friends in other schools because most of them have a set school day from 8:30-1:00. They go to class via Zoom and are required to attend class each day. When Google Meets started to come into the picture at CNHS, I decided that I liked Google Classroom a lot better. I really enjoyed seeing everyone, but I did not like how I was scheduled to be present at a certain time. I also realized that I was learning the information just as well without the Google Meets. The teachers have been remarkable in that they encourage us to email them with any questions, and they also send sweet messages that say they are thinking about us. They have been so sincere and genuine that I am extremely grateful. As far as other students I have talked to, I know that a lot of them feel the same way. They love how they can do what they want when they want during the day and they appreciate the extra time that it saves.
Overall, I view virtual learning as a positive. It is unfortunate that I can’t see my classmates or teachers, but there are benefits to it that regular school does not offer. Despite that, I hope to see everyone next fall, and stay safe!