Feature: Technology: A student’s eye view

Feature: Technology: A students eye view

Samantha Rucci, Assistant Editor/Journalism Student

Over sixty thousand schools use Schoology on a daily basis, and more than twenty million students log on to Schoology sites every day. 

Schoology is learning management system that schools picked up during the pandemic to help with digital learning. Schoology can be used for tests, assignments, quizzes, and can be self-grading, making less work for teachers. North St. Paul High School uses Schoology everyday for tests, daily class work, and grading. Many teachers take advantage of the wonders it has to hold: LockDown Browser, self-grading quizzes, and digital assignments. However, many students have found these “helpful tools” hurtful to schooling and basic social skills. More than ever, students are checking out of class, and their grades are going down drastically. According to a recent article in The Washington Post, “failure rates in math and English jumped as much as sixfold for some of the most vulnerable students in Maryland’s largest school system” while “students across the greater Houston metropolitan area got F’s at unprecedented rates, with some districts reporting nearly half of middle and high school students failing in at least one class.”

With students failing more than ever, schools need to adapt to match the new needs of their students. All current middle and high school students have gone through more than a year of the  COVID-19 Pandemic, where nothing has been normal anymore. In March of 2021, around 214 million children globally – or 1 in 7 – have missed more than three-quarters of their in-person learning, reports UNICEF.

With the technology being in each student’s pocket, from phones to wireless earbuds, technology has advanced massively in recent years. North High saw this quickly with the adoption of Chromebooks as new ways to access education. North High had to purchase new computers for the at home students to continue their education. With Zoom and Schoology, they got by; however, students, teachers, and parents are seeing a downturn in student achievement.

Students struggle with writing skills. “…these kids can barely write a full paragraph,” notes Ms. Myers, an English teacher at North. Even students who have been speaking the English language their whole lives are struggling with these writing skills. 

Where COVID pushed them back, teachers and the teaching should have evolved, when it doesn’t seem like it has. The assignments are online, teachers are switching to a more hands off approach. Slides online, and EdPuzzles. EdPuzzles are one of the many features on Schoology, a video, with questions that pop up as the student watches the video, having a video teach the student new material instead of a teacher in the front of a class. Different from a Bill Nye, which were previously used as a work day, EdPuzzles also have a grade attached to them.

There is a mix of different ways to teach online, and through Schoology, yet teachers stick to the mold, and put formerly printed assignments online, and students type their answers. Writing has been known to help people remember more than speaking. Taking notes was a reflection of this, taking notes on paper, using a pen, was a common class time activity, and a decent way to learn. Nowadays, students have guided notes, where most of the words are filled in, and the student only has to write a few words here and there. Teachers also have printed out notes, no writing needed at all. Test Review worksheets are becoming less helpful, will the answers filled in, and already found for the student, meaning very little is remembered after the test. Long term remembering is a thing of the past with how things are after COVID. Teacher’s have used this method to teach every subject, as it was successful. Now, however, the notes students have for most classes rarely help anyone, and can even be harmful to the students, as they aren’t learning the skills of note taking, which they may need in jobs, or college. 

Basic skills like this are slowly dropping from classes, yet some have never been taught, no matter how far someone may look back. Life skills like how to find a job are only offered in electives you won’t have to take. At North High, we offer these programs in electives such as “Career Writing”, where you learn these essential skills. Making a resume, meeting notes. In AVID you learn how to apply for scholarships and how to be organized. Life enrichment classes should be offered. Life long skills are missing from school, and are replaced by requirements for math you won’t remember after the student graduates, and complicated science you’d only need to know if you choose to go down a science path. Things perfect for elective classes. 

Students don’t know what’s best for them. They know what’s easiest. Any student falls into the trap of easy, not best. Easier classes, or doing the bare minimum. Online classes, and these different programs students use, are easier for everyone involved. However, teachers are starting to notice that what students wish for, isn’t the best for them. The guided notes have left students unable to take standard notes, using just slides and a blank piece of paper. 

Students themselves aren’t doing the best for themselves anymore. Phones are a common thing used every minute of every day. Nearly 7 hours of screen time daily, Exploding Topics reports. Over one fourth of a full day, 24 hours. Students are also losing sleep, going to sleep later and later. National Children’s reports, seven hours and dropping, when the average teenager needs 9 ½ hours of sleep every night. Between video games, TikTok, students have less energy for school. If the student is online school only, they make their own schedule, causing them to have a chaotic sleep pattern. 

School doesn’t need to go back to how it was before COVID, it needs to move forward to help these students, to be the wind under their wings, not the rain pelting them from above. Students are behind because of the pandemic, and teachers, admin, and other school staff aren’t coming up with new ways to learn, just using what’s already out there. Student’s education is never one solid way. Each student is their own person, and this society needs to move with them, one way will not work with every student. Each student has different needs. Who’s first to move forward?