LHS Zooms into Distance Learning

Abby Langmeyer, Reporter

Due to the statewide stay at home order because of the Coronavirus pandemic, LHS completely transferred all courses online. This transfer has been challenging, but Lakeview teachers quickly figured out everything and seamlessly proceeded with plans for the fourth nine weeks.

Right away, the LHS technology team and administration introduced teachers to Zoom, a software-based conference room. In other words, one person (like a teacher) can host a meeting and invite others (like students) to attend, all using the camera of the Chromebook. This program allows teachers to meet with all of their students at the same time, just like in a physical classroom.

Zoom can never fully replace the true classroom experience and so comes with mixed reviews. The Bulldog Bulletin conducted surveys of LHS students and teachers to get their views on using this program.

The majority of responses state that most, and in some cases all, of a student’s classes utilize Zoom in some form whether live presentations or recorded presentations that students view when their schedule allows. Fortunately, teachers have been very flexible in how students make Zoom work.

Many LHS teachers have been providing once a week online meetings for any student who has questions. The most popular way that teachers use Zoom is for “office hours” which equates to a scheduled time that students know they can log on and both see and talk with their teachers in real time.

Zoom also allows teachers to record the live office hours so that students who cannot attend the live lesson, or maybe want to review the live lesson, can log on later and view a recording as many times as they like.

Math is by far the number one course that students identified as needing the live connection that Zoom provides.

Sophomore Anna Rider reports that Zoom is very helpful in her Algebra II class because, “Our teacher can answer our questions clearly and explain them to us.

Not surprisingly, Math is also by far the number one course that students identified as being the most difficult subject to learn online. Other courses that students find Zoom helpful are in the science and foreign language departments.

Freshman Aylah Purdum finds Zoom to be necessary for, “French, because we can see and hear how words are pronounced and it helps us understand the words better.”

Students’ responses show that they like being able to choose for themselves where and when they needed additional help.

Senior Megan Cross shared that for her classes, “It’s optional to join the office hours, so I’ve only done math.”

Zoom does have its detractors.  Students report that sometimes the program tends to glitch throughout the online hosted meetings.

Senior Madison Harvey explained,  “I joined the zoom meeting for my one class and it tended to glitch here and there. Also, the audio quality on the Chromebooks makes it difficult to hear when others are speaking.”

In addition, survey results revealed some students were concerned about classmates having a window into their private lives through the cameras of their Chromebooks, but the majority of those responding didn’t seem to mind.

Since the increasing use of Chromebooks at LHS in recent years, our teachers were already using a variety of online programs to supplement classroom teaching. Zoom, however, is new to instructional staff as well. If Zoom continues to be available to schools after our return to physical classrooms, most teachers express a desire to return to what was working before. Others see new possibilities opened up by Zoom. For example, this program could be a window into the classroom for students well enough to work from home but too sick to be in the company of others.

Science teacher Dana Dragash sees another possibility, “I plan to use Zoom for some lessons and flip my classroom on occasion, especially now that I know that basically all of our students have access to the resources at home on their Chromebooks.”

For most LHS teachers, Zoom could never replace the live, in-person experience they need to teach their students. While this experiment in distance learning is absolutely necessary to protect the health and safety of our entire community, most report concerns.

Freshman English teacher Kari Milliron’s response reflects the typical response from teachers, “I’m struggling with the lack of feedback. I have been launching lessons & assignments on Monday, and then I have to wait until a student asks a question or submits work to know how they’re doing. The lack of interaction and knowing if my students are “getting it” has been very frustrating.”

A true classroom experience is impossible to match online, and using distance learning, as Social Studies teacher Thomas Pavlansky says, “is nothing that [we] ever want to get used to doing,” but for now the Zoom program provides a little bit of a band aid.

Senior Megan Zetterquist stated, “The Zoom program is very easy to use and is very helpful when I have to ask a teacher a question.”

On the plus side, if students do log on for the live lessons offered in some classes, they at least get to see and hear their classmates in real time.

Senior Kayla Beil exclaimed, “It’s nice to be able to see everyone again even though we are not at school.”

Overall, technology is always going to have its problems, but this zoom program is very beneficial for Lakeview’s temporary online transition.