SUHSD prepares faculty to use Zoom as an conferencing platform


Madison Geering

AP Environmental Science teacher Adrienne Marriott leads her fourth period class using the Zoom video-call platform.

On Sep. 8, 2020, the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) announced that teachers at Bonita Vista High (BVH) and two other SUHSD schools have the option to use Zoom instead of Google Meet for remote instruction. Teachers will have the choice to change their meeting platform to Zoom but are not required to do so.

“Zoom has many functions such as breakout rooms that teachers really like that Google Meet does not have yet,” BVH Principal Roman Del Rosario, Ed.D., said. “I think more choices is good so long as it does not lead to increased confusion.”

SUHSD started planning the utilization of Zoom before fall break and conducted a Zoom trial with several BVH classes that started on Sept. 14 and ended on Sept. 25. Though Del Rosario notes potential flaws with Zoom, such as password safety and class disruptions, the trial went smoothly and has not changed plans of the video platform’s use.

During the first class period or two, some students had to work out some login issues, but those issues only occurred because students did not follow the directions carefully. We did not have any genuine issues,” 9th grade Biology and Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science teacher Adrienne Marriott said.

In order to join a Zoom meeting, students must click on a URL and join with their login credentials on their computers, according to Director of Information Technology and Enterprise Architecture (ITEA) David Delacalzada. He directed the Zoom trial and believes that Zoom, which allows teachers to manage breakout rooms and use private chat options, will make distance learning easier.

“With robust video and audio features, [which] include breakout room sessions, Zoom will provide improved ways that teachers can engage students in distance learning,” Delacalzada said.

According to Marriott, Zoom is a better learning platform than Google Meet. She lobbied for the video-conferencing platform earlier in the school year. She switched to Zoom since she believes that it offers features that are not available in Google Meet. 

“There are ways to force Google Meet to do most of what Zoom does. But I like to work smart. Why not utilize a tool, Zoom, that makes all of the features easy rather than add stress to my life by fighting with an inferior program?” Marriott said.

However, Marriott believes issues may still arise with the new video conferencing platform. Directions will be given out to students and teachers, and according to Marriott, as long as they follow those directions, there shouldn’t be much of a problem.

“There is no virtual platform that offers a true ’in-person’ experience, and it can be awkward for students to either be on camera or speak up. But right now virtual platforms are the best option to keep our students, families, teachers, and community healthy while still doing our best to provide a high-quality education,” Marriott said.

Marriott hopes that Zoom will improve student engagement in remote learning and allow her to track student attendance more easily. 

I am hopeful that students will have more opportunities for small group interaction since Zoom makes breakout rooms so easy. I have found this small group interaction, or lack thereof, to be the most challenging thing about distance learning,” Marriott said. 

As remote learning continues for the rest of the semester, Del Rosario expects roadblocks. According to Del Rosario, he is getting comfortable with the change and with technology. 

“We are in an ever changing environment, and like everything else with distance learning, we need patience and grace,” Del Rosario said.