By: SAM LAURIA
Virtual school, dubbed “Zoom University,” has become the new norm for education in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ever since March, schools and universities across the country have adapted to this odd situation by moving classrooms to a digital format.
Apps such as Zoom, Blackboard and Canvas are pioneering the way for remote learning. By taking advantage of these technological innovations, virtual schooling seems like a perfect solution that will allow students to continue their education while facing a global health crisis. Although online schooling provides students with an education, it is cheating them out of a proper one.
Online education is nowhere near the quality of in-person learning for a number of reasons. Yes, it teaches students time management and how to work independently, but if they have a hard time focusing, their educational careers could be put at stake.
Firstly, Zoom is reportedly a very buggy app. It often has connection issues and has a high chance of crashing. Because of these issues, both students and teachers have run into problems that caused them to either miss important information or lose precious class time.
Additionally, the security protocols that the app offers are mediocre at best. Every meeting could be susceptible to “Zoom bombing” — people hijack Zoom meetings and expose their participants to content with varying degrees of crudeness. All Zoom bombers need access to is the meeting ID and password, which can be provided to them by students on the internet.
If someone does not have access to a stable internet connection, a phone or a computer, virtual schooling has the possibility of destroying their educational career. This becomes a problem for lower income students, as they do not have the same privileges as the rest of their classmates. These problems could cause lower-income students to fall behind in classes.
An article from the Los Angeles Times, addresses this problem by examining the situation of Andrew Diaz, a 10th grader whose financial situation caused him to fail his classes. Before remote learning went into full effect, he was a model student, earning A’s and B’s in all of his classes.
With his mother stuck at work and no supervision from teachers, Diaz slowly began to lose motivation to attend classes. By the end of April, Diaz’s school-related depression had taken its full effect. “I feel like when I move on to 11th grade, I’m gonna be behind, and everybody’s gonna, like, be smarter than me, and I’m afraid,” he said in the article.
Furthermore, when classes are moved online, cheating becomes infinitely easier, with about 32.7% of students admitting to it. This allows students to get away with many things that they would not be able to do in the classroom.
When students begin to cheat on all of their assignments, they fail to actually take in the information that was assigned to them to learn. Because remote learning makes it easier to cheat, the classroom can become an environment of dishonesty.
Classes that move to online outlets lose an essential element of school — the relationship between the teacher and their students.The lack of interpersonal connection turns learning into a desolate void in which information is spat back and forth with little critical engagement or debate.
Having a teacher who builds relationships with their students allows students to form a connection with the content that they are learning. They are allowed to spark in-depth conversation about the content that they are being taught that only furthers their knowledge while keeping them engaged. Online school eliminates this connection— education has become a strict method of memorizing information, and keeping to the tight schedule of the curriculum.
In this time of stress and uncertainty, students and teachers are all overwhelmed. If you are struggling in class, reach out to your teachers or professors and let them know that you need help.
Even though Zoom University is greatly hindering academia, it is saddening to say that it is currently the only viable option we have that allows students to continue their education without the threat of COVID-19. Until everything returns to normal, we must try our best to make do with the husk of an education system we once had.
Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.