Technology stepping up to the plate amid COVID-19 distance learning
At Minnehaha Academy, technology is being used to bridge the gap between students in the classroom and at home for the 2020 school year.
Because of the global pandemic, it has been necessary for the high school to find and use technology to give students access to a high quality learning experience. Minnehaha has provided teachers with multiple technologies to help students at home be able to join lessons.
Zoom, a video conferencing software, is vital to connecting students and teachers to the classroom.
“The first problem with technology then is solving how people see and hear,” said Latin teacher Johanna Beck.
The teachers are given an extra iPad to use as a camera for Zoom. However, it is difficult for online students to see their classmates as they appear very small on Zoom.
“You can barely see movement,” said Beck.
Teachers are also given two methods of sharing audio- either with Airpods or through a Bluetooth speaker that also has a microphone. The Airpods let distance learners hear the teacher clearly, but they are unable to hear other students who are in the classroom. In contrast, the Bluetooth speaker lets online students hear everything.
“It should be great but it’s not perfect,” said Beck.
A final obstacle is how to keep students engaged. Pear Deck, a Google slides extension, is being used for this purpose. Pear Deck allows the teacher to present slides to students, and enables teachers to ask questions about the content of the slides. Students’ answers are presented directly to the teacher to better determine how well each student understands the topic being studied.