Teachers and students adapt to different distance learning platforms

Honors US History teacher Candice DeVore believes that Zoom is more convenient and has a better security system than Google Meet. DeVore also reported seeing more students participate in class with Zoom.

Melina Ramirez

Honors US History teacher Candice DeVore believes that Zoom is more convenient and has a better security system than Google Meet. DeVore also reported seeing more students participate in class with Zoom.

At 9 a.m., the Google Meet video sessions fill with black squares and circled initials. Students logging on to classes send good morning wishes through the chat feature or turn on their microphones to speak with their teacher. Starting off the class, International Baccalaureate (IB) History and Women’s Culture and United States History teacher Candice DeVore begins with her daily check-in and a special announcement: she will be moving her classes from Google Meet to Zoom. 

Since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, Bonita Vista High (BVH) teachers had the option to conduct their classes through Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. However, halfway through Sep., the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) permitted the usage of the video platform Zoom which was previously banned due to security issues.

DeVore was one teacher who decided to switch her classes to Zoom. Initially, some of DeVore’s students felt indifferent about the platform change.

“Most of the time it’s not what is easier for me because I’m just sitting, taking notes. It’s more what’s easier for the teachers so [the different video call platforms don’t] really impact me that much,” sophomore Reuben Broudy said. 

With the addition of Zoom, SUHSD provided teachers with pilot sessions to familiarize themselves with the platform and ultimately decide on moving their classes to Zoom. Like many students, Broudy uses all three platforms to attend his classes; one class uses Zoom, one uses Microsoft Teams and the rest uses Google Meet. DeVore found Zoom convenient for her due to its ease of use and decided to implement it into her classes. 

“Something that I wanted to do is reduce the number of clicks that it takes a student to participate in class. One thing that Zoom does well, for example, [is] use breakout rooms,” DeVore said. 

As a result of moving her classes to Zoom, DeVore and some of her students, who had never used the platform, had to familiarize themselves with the application. On Oct. 17 DeVore used the school day to troubleshoot any difficulties with her students.

During the first class on Zoom, DeVore met with her students on Google Meet first to relay the instructions. She then sent the Zoom link and, while operating both a Google Meet and Zoom class, practiced making breakout rooms and helped students with technical difficulties. 

“I liked when we tried out Zoom. I really liked it a lot more because it was easier to log in and to use,” junior Mia Gonzalez said. “I think it’s pretty equal with Microsoft Teams because it seems simpler to use.”

DeVore also switched to Zoom because many of her students had experienced difficulties with Google Meet. For much of the school year, Gonzalez arrived late to her classes because her class session links often did not work. Gonzalez would email her teachers to ask for help or to send her a working link, but as the year progressed, Gonzalez learned to deal with the situation on her own. 

I really don’t mind [the different video call platforms]… At the end of the day, I know my teachers are trying to do the best that they can to help us.”

— Junior Mia Gonzalez

“I really don’t mind [the different video call platforms]. It doesn’t really annoy me or stress me out. At the end of the day, I know my teachers are trying to do the best that they can to help us, and if it means using Zoom or Microsoft Teams to make it easier, then I’m totally okay with it because I’m familiar with both of them,” Gonzalez said. “I really don’t mind as long as it doesn’t interfere with my work or being in class.”

Broudy and Gonzalez express that they don’t mind using different video call platforms for their classes as each platform has different qualities that teachers prefer to make online instruction easier. Ultimately, DeVore believes her students are coping well amid the challenges of remote learning. 

“I want to commend all my students and my colleagues in particular who are making distance learning work with all of the obstacles we’re facing. When people ask me how things are going, what they’re really asking is how distance learning [is] going and I’m always very quick to recognize that my students are doing great,” DeVore said.