Writer: Shea Ashamala
Editor: Emily Rapp
When San Marcos students were sent home due to the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19 and the ‘Rona’), our Royals were unsure if we would begin distance learning from our homes, or if we would go right back to school after a few weeks, on April 3rd.
However, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a mandatory shelter in place, canceling school for the rest of the year. Our school district, along with ones all around the state, and even the country, started to look for ways to make this transition into e-learning as seamless as possible for both students and teachers.
That’s where Zoom came in. Zoom is an online video conferencing system. For years, companies have been using them for meetings. Comparably, it is similar to Apple’s Facetime, but on a larger, more professional scale. When wanting to create a Zoom meeting, creators are able to make a link and code. From there, they can share it amongst their group, creating a “call session.” On their free version, Zoom calls can last up to 40 minutes. When purchasing a subscription, the minutes are endless. Zoom allows for as many people as you want to join seamlessly with either the code or link, making it perfect for bigger scale meetings, such as our school classes.
Zoom has many notable features for both teachers and students. For teachers, there is the option to mute all students at once, allowing teachers to talk without interruption. There is also a feature called “breakout rooms,” where you are able to set up students into a mini zoom call with a few students, modeling a table group. Lastly, teachers are able to share their computer screens with the class. For students, there is the option to also mute yourself if needed. Additionally, students have the option to turn off their video screen to have a little bit of privacy during class. When the speaker asks a question, students are able to “raise their hand,” in order to answer in a way that is not disruptive.
As for the features of Zoom that make it more fun, people are able to change the backgrounds on their Zoom screens. As well as the screens, you are able to change a lot more about your appearance with the help of Snap Camera. With this plugin, you are able to apply any filter from Snapchat and apply it to your appearance in Zoom. With the screen sharing ability, friends are able to all watch a movie and play games with each other on a screen.
With COVID-19 causing everything to go online, schools are looking to Zoom. As of Wednesday, April 1st, San Marcos and the rest of the Santa Barbara School District went live with Zoom classes. Students are now expected to join class calls from Monday to Thursday. On Mondays and Wednesdays, they have periods 1 and 3. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is periods 2 and 4. Classes meet for around an hour and a half, and students are required to show up as if it were a class at school.
Some students enjoy it, as online learning allows them to go at their own pace. Others, however, still prefer the in-person classes. “I am too busy to give a quote,” stated Senior Sabre Moore. “I am too busy trying to figure out Zoom.” One of the biggest hurdles our school district had to get over was the attainability of teaching in our community. Although the Ipads have proven to be very helpful in class, some students needed the laptops provided at school in order to complete assignments. Additionally, some students didn’t have wifi. Due to this, San Marcos has been working to try and provide students with as much as they can.
As we navigate through the uncertainty of e-learning, our students and staff are able to rely on Zoom to finish out the year strong.