10 COVID-19’s Affect on Education, Specifically in High Schools

Melissa Kostecki

Introduction

Our country, The United States of America, has been heavily impacted by the global pandemic, COVID-19, in numerous ways. One major aspect of our country that has had to heavily adjust to these new safety protocols is our education system, specifically high schools. A typical day of high school no longer looks like a day from 8 am to 3 pm, with extracurricular activities following school to socialize. Now, high schools all around the United States have had to switch to virtual learning, to protect students’ and teachers’ health. This dramatic change in high schools has been challenging, but it has shown how strong our education system is. COVID-19 has challenged and modified the way high schools are now functioning by forcing online learning technology to advance rapidly, having to introduce and create new ways of learning, and adjusting the education system to the new norms of our society. This topic relates to STS because without the technology we have today, virtual learning would not be possible. Advancements in learning technology have allowed high schools around the world to function during this time.

Impact on Learning Technology in Secondary Education

seen below is a student working with the online application during COVID-19.
Seen below is a student working with an online application during COVID-19. This image relates to my topic since it is showing what learning now looks like for high school students.

To begin, a major part that high school systems have had to change is the learning technology being used to hold virtual classes. High schools and technology companies have had to figure out quickly what is needed to make virtual learning easy and available to all students. Holding virtual classes requires high schools to have various online learning resources to help students succeed and stay on track during this time. The main application used by most high school students is called Zoom. Zoom is an online communication application that is used to hold virtual classes. Teachers have many tools available on this application to help make virtual classes more interactive. Certain features that teachers enjoy include, “Many teachers take advantage of the Zoom feature that allows for recording conversations and saving chat transcripts so students can refer to them later” (Lieberman 2). Zoom is an easy-to-use application that allows high school teachers to interact with students by sharing their screens with the class and viewing their students through web cameras. But, with most high schools around the country using this tool, it has forced Zoom to advance its technology very rapidly so that it’s able to cater to the number of users that need it.

The rapid increase in Zoom users has challenged the application. Lieberman (2020) noted, “The surge of new users, including 90,000 schools and the rapid increase in users has also led to increased scrutiny of the security limitations” (1). Clearly, there has been a rapid increase in the number of high schools that are relying on this application, which has caused slight defects as Zoom continues to improve its system. But, without this technology, it would make learning online much more difficult and could cause some students to fall behind in school. Luckily, with learning technology advancements like Zoom, virtual learning is manageable and more interactive.

Creating New Technology to Make High School Learning Interactive

Seen here is a student learning new interactive ways to engage in learning at home. This relates to my topic since new ways of making class interactive have been introduced in high schools to keep students more engaged on their work during this difficult time.
During this time, high schools have had to create and introduce new ways to make virtual learning interactive. A study on techniques of education technology by several medical doctors at the start of the pandemic concluded that “We propose several innovative solutions including the flipped classroom model, online practice questions, and teleconferencing in place of in-person lectures” (Chick). Although it is very challenging to replace hands-on learning, these techniques will help students while being virtual. It will also make the classroom much more interactive and engaged, which will help high school students stay more focused and motivated during this time. Although these are very helpful tools during this time, they may not be effective for all students. Some parents and students argue that they want to go back to in-person classes since some students have much more trouble learning online, causing them to have lower grades which could significantly impact their college choices and future career paths (Lieberman 2). Also, students feel as if they are not as prepared as they should be, causing them to delay going to college or starting a career. According to CNBC News, Fox stated, “Of the high school juniors and seniors polled, 27% said their plans after graduation have changed and 44% said the pandemic has affected their plans to pay for college and 57% of teenagers said they were concerned about how COVID-19 will affect their life after high school” (1).

It is evident that high school students are concerned about their futures and they feel that what their school may be doing is not enough for them to stay on track. So, from this information, it’s evident that students’ futures may have to be put slightly on pause for them to get back on track. High schools around the United States should begin to implement online resources to help high school students stay on track with their goal of college. Resources can include how to study for standardized tests and faculty helping students with their college applications. As our education system continues to endeavor during this time, each day more and more new learning techniques continue to be implemented to help students. But, it’s evident that more needs to be done to make students feel prepared for the future during this time. As high schools continue to advance their online systems, more resources will likely be available to help students thinking about life after high school during this time.

Impact on High School Student’s Social Interaction & Mental Health

“This dramatic change in high schools has been challenging, but it has shown how strong our education system is.”

As our society begins to adjust to the new norms of our society of maintaining six feet apart from others, wearing a mask in public, and staying home if you’re sick, our interaction with each other has changed. A main part of the high school experience is interacting with classmates inside and outside of the classroom (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1). High school students are missing out on memories like prom, graduation, and sporting events. All of this uncertainty for when high school will return to normal has created a lot of anxiety and stress for students (Kreitz 1). But, being in a global pandemic gives students the only option of dealing with this situation and creating solutions. High schools around the country have begun making solutions like, making their extracurricular clubs meet virtually. One high school in Texas has shifted their club fair to be virtual, so students still have the opportunity to stay in contact with peers and make new friends. A teacher Vivian Hernandez (2020) describes the importance of social interaction during this time, “When educators sponsor a student club, they’re building community, they bring students together, student clubs do not have to stop because of COVID-19, they may be more important now than ever” (1). Interaction with others will help make high school students feel less lonely during this time. High schools around the country are creating new ways to hold regular student sessions like this, which shows how high schools can come together to support one another. 

Luckily, thanks to the technology we have, high school students can easily learn from home. Without computers, e-textbooks, and online applications, it would be impossible to continue to go through the school year. And although students are missing the structure of the normal school day, this will only make high school institutions stronger for the future.  Dr. Michael Krüger, Coordinator of the International Education Management noted in an interview that despite the complexity of the new teaching and learning arrangements, he is surprised how focused everyone is and how much has been achieved. Krüger believes the lessons learned from these experiences will have a lasting impact on their teaching and help strengthen the educational system (Wawa, 1). As an education system, all members of high schools have worked to strengthen their learning techniques and to adapt to the new norms of our society during this time. 

Connection to STS Theory

The topic of how education has changed in high schools across the country due to COVID-19 relates to the STS theory of social constructivism. Social constructivism describes that science & technology are importantly social, that they are always active, and that they do not provide a direct route from nature to ideas. The main aspects of this theory is seen throughout this chapter. The technology that has been created to make virtual learning easier and more engaging was shaped by teachers, students, and parents’ biases based on what they believed to be the best way of learning virtually. Also, science and technology are very active during this time and are constantly changing since as we begin to test new ways of learning, our high schools are learning what methods are efficient and what is not, changing them accordingly. Lastly, the technology being used is not an actual description of nature and is not displaying the normal techniques that would be used to teach high school students.

Conclusion

To conclude, COVID-19 has impacted the high schools around our country significantly. But, through the technology available to students, the education system has been able to reach new limits and introduce new ways of learning using virtual-technology that have never been used before. Now, new ways of learning will be implemented into school days when things go back to normal. Although there are rising concerns about students not performing as well or being prepared, high schools around the country have been able to adapt to a one of a kind situation and have been able to continue to teach through the learning technology that is available to our society. Students’ social interaction and mental health has also shifted during this time, but communities are coming together to support one another and create new ways to interact so that each student feels happy. COVID-19 has challenged and modified the way high schools are now functioning, by forcing learning technology to advance rapidly, having to introduce and create new ways of learning, and adjusting the education system to the new norms of our society. Through this global pandemic, we’ve seen how strong our education system in high schools really is.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Operating schools during COVID-19: CDC’s Considerations.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html.

Chick, Robert C., et al. “Using Technology to Maintain the Education of Residents during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Journal of Surgical Education, vol. 77, no. 4, 2020, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1931720420300842.

Fox, Michelle. “Go to college or skip it? High school students face a new reality due to coronavirus.” CNBC, 24 Apr. 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/24/high-school-students-face-a-new-reality-due-to-coronavirus.html.

Hernandez, Vivian. “Creating Online Clubs for Students During Remote Learning.” Edutopia,  28 Sep. 2020, https://www.edutopia.org/article/creating-online-clubs-students-during-remote-learning.

Kreitz, Mary. “The Impact of COVID-19 on high school students.” Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health, 2020, https://www.childandadolescent.org/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-high-school-students/.

Lieberman, Mark. “Zoom Use Skyrockets During Coronavirus Pandemic, Prompting Wave of Problems for Schools.” EducationWeek, 3 Apr. 2020, https://www.edweek.org/technology/zoom-use-skyrockets-during-coronavirus-pandemic-prompting-wave-of-problems-for-schools/2020/04 Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

Wawa, Brenda. “COVID-19 and Higher Education: Interview with Dr. Michael Krüger.” Academic Impact, 2020, https://academicimpact.un.org/content/covid-19-and-higher-education-interview-dr-michael-kr%C3%BCger.

Images

“Woman in Pink Shirt Sitting by the Table While Smiling” by Julia M Cameron is in the Public Domain

“Photo of Child Sitting by the Table While Looking at the Imac” by Julia M Cameron is in the Public Domain

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