Classroom turns virtual

Administration and students alike begin to consider the implications of classes held over video chat software.

Members+of+the+Puma+Pals+club+attend+a+virtual+meeting+using+the+video+call+software+Zoom

Anna Myers

Members of the Puma Pals club attend a virtual meeting using the video call software Zoom

In 1918, school after school across the United States closed its doors in an attempt to protect its student population from a deadly string of Spanish flu that ended up infecting 500 million people globally. The world has been tossed into a strikingly similar situation, and yet, the difference between the pandemic of the early 1920’s and that of the early 2020’s is evident: the prominence of technology. 

As the world steps into another week of practicing “social distancing” students and teachers continue to utilize video chatting software like Zoom. Teachers, coaches, and club sponsors have the ability to start what essentially becomes a group FaceTime call, where they can accept and deny participants as they request access to join. 

There are obvious positives and negatives to using Zoom and similar platforms. 

On one hand, video calls allow for some of the more hands-on CTE classes to have an outlet to meet, while coaches could put the software to use in order to remain in close contact with their teams. Special Education teachers, who incorporate more face to face interaction in their lessons, could hold regular classes rather than alter their students’ schedules and routines with online work. “Because many of our students have communication needs, seeing a face and being able to see someone else’s facial expressions is really beneficial to them,” Special Education teacher, Alexis Myers, explained further. 

However, it is evident that video calls have their downsides.

Students’ privacy is a factor to consider, as many of these platforms rely on sharing a code to access the chats, codes that must be emailed or texted out to participants. However, students do not seem to be concerned about their privacy being breached. “I don’t think we have any reason to worry about our classmates peeking into our living rooms,” junior Vincent Truong stated. Senior Sofie Kile echoed Truong’s statement saying “The only thing [students] see is whatever is behind you which I don’t find too nerve racking.”

I don’t think we have any reason to worry about our classmates peeking into our living rooms.”

— junior Vincent Truong

Meanwhile, some of the software is simply not user friendly or is time consuming to set up. AP Language teacher, Cynthia Pino, explained that she most likely would not use a video call for class, saying “I am working so many hours a day just to figure out Google classroom.”

Campus groups like the yearbook and newspaper staffs, the baseball team, and the Puma Pals club have already begun to take advantage of Zoom to stay in touch, however, Principal Dan Serrano detailed that as of April 1, “Google Hangout is the only platform that the district is having teachers use to communicate to students.” Google Hangout is a similar program to Zoom, but is linked to students’ Google Classroom accounts making it a bit more accessible. 

As Perry students step out of the classroom and onto the internet, using video call software to conduct classes is something they can expect in the near future.