online learning

The Trials and Tribulations of Online School

In the spring of 2020, Capistrano Unified School District went one hundred percent online after the coronavirus spread to California. During this time, students utilized Google Classroom to complete assignments and School Loop to view grades. However, during the summer, CUSD made the switch to a new program called Canvas. Canvas is a learning management system where students access school work and grades. Canvas fully replaced Google Classroom and School Loop. CUSD has also incorporated Apex into the new distance learning curriculum. Apex is a program where students are taught lessons, complete lesson practices and take quizzes. Although Canvas is a new program for the district, Apex is not. Introducing such new programs at this time was not a good call from the district. Especially when we could have continued to use Google Classroom, a program most students and teachers know how to use. There was no need to switch to a new program that everyone had to learn. 

Before our campuses were fully closed CUSD had released plans on how we would return to school after distance learning in the Spring. The district gave middle school and high school students two options on how they could return to school. The first option was Program A, also known as the hybrid plan, which consisted of half in person learning and half online learning. The second program, Program B was the fully online option students and parents could choose. Both of the programs would use Apex, UC Scout and Canvas for the online portion of learning. These two programs are likely to resurface in the near future.

Having students working independently online raises concerns for parents and staff. Keeping track of students and marking attendance is not very effective through Zoom. Students can easily turn their cameras off after the teacher is done taking roll, leaving them clueless about what the student is doing. If teachers require you to have your camera on, it’s still very easy to get distracted by your phone or your surroundings. Even when students are listening to the teachers talk, there are other distractions. The sudden change of surroundings for students is a large distraction in itself. Ways that teachers are keeping the focus of students is by calling on them or requiring them to type in the chat. The further we get into the year, the more teachers will learn how to keep the attention of their students for longer amo0unts of time.

Despite the great efforts our district has made, many students and parents are unsatisfied with this new system of learning. During this stressful time the switch to new online programs is a very difficult transition. However, the district has given many resources to help students manage distance learning. For example, CUSD has lent laptops and WiFi routers to families that do not have their own. This was a large first step to make this year convenient for families. Another way the district has handled online learning well is the amount of guidance they are offering. Back in Spring the guidance counselors at each school were very active online. This year they are making extra efforts by adding us into guidance Canvas courses and sending out emails. This is a valuable resource during these times and it is relieving to see that the district is looking out for students mental health and well being. It is too early to tell how this year will go, but the district is working very hard and we notice their efforts.

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