Zooming into the Future

This morning, while most high school students in Mississippi slept in because of the weather, MSMS students filed into their Zoom rooms and stayed on track. Technology can seem like a blessing in situations like these, but I am curious: what will be the appropriate role for this kind of technology at MSMS next year?

Our infrastructure allowed us to offer a wealth of remote content and instruction for 240 students this year, so why not open MSMS classes up to students from around the state every year–why lock ourselves into a residential model when we can touch so many more lives remotely? Wouldn’t it be more equitable? If MSMS does more distance learning, what would happen to students’ college placement? The quality of their writing? Their standardized test scores? Conversely, assuming MSMS returns to its traditional, residential model next year, should teachers continue to record classes and conduct assessments on Canvas instead of paper? Now that the technology is embedded, will we continue to use it once we can return to traditional methods of instruction?

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11 Responses to Zooming into the Future

  1. Madison Flowers says:

    Dr. Easterling, I do agree with you that the overall ranking of Mississippi in education would probably skyrocket tremendously.The quality of education would definitely improve writing and standardized test scores. MSMS has offered me a great deal of intellectual stimulation that I was unable to receive at any other school I have attended. I do feel like this would be a good thing for other students in Mississippi who aren’t as blessed with the same education MSMS students receive. However, I do feel like there would be a downside in this situation. For example, the more students we introduce the harder it could be for a struggling student to form a relationship with their teacher.

    While it doesn’t really matter to me how my tests are administered, I would personally prefer for teachers to continue to record their lectures. I feel like without that my grades would’ve suffered terribly this year. Whenever I am confused on a topic, I luckily can rewatch the teacher explain it and absorb the lesson with my own time constraints.

  2. Muneebah Umar says:

    I remember at the start of the pandemic, I began seeing a lot of people using Yale’s Open Courses, and I believe, at the very least, MSMS could create something similar for a lot of its courses. This year many teachers have recorded all their lessons and that could easily be compiled and posted online for students across the state. A habit that I think teachers should continue is recording lectures for students regardless of whether they atttend class or not. Having those resources helps students, and is an easy way to double check confusing topics, especially if they can’t meet with the teacher. I don’t believe posting lectures fosters apathy in actual classes, since students want to learn, but they can’t be at their best everyday.

    I do believe the residential environment at MSMS is part of the experience but we’ve seen this year that it is not crucial. While other parts of the experience, mainly the community and friendships, are tied to the dorm setting, the academic opportunities are not dependent on it. Offering higher level courses to students at other schools throughout the state would have a massive impact. There are many smart students who don’t attend MSMS and don’t have access to advanced classes. MSMS’s purpose is to serve the entire state and there are multiple ways it could do this. Even posting Khan Academy style lectures that don’t give credit but prepare students for AP tests could help, and MSMS could eventually expand and offer credits. Nontheless, even when classes return to normal, the benefits of virtual learning should not be forgotten.

  3. Evie Guigley says:

    Online school can only do so much. Traditional school can only do so much. I do agree with your proposal to have online school to students across the state. There is a school who is doing similar things in Memphis, Lausanne. They have a virtual enrollment course and a traditional enrollment course at the same time. As helpful as online learning can be, it might be stressful on teachers to keep up with an online class and a traditional class. With the way MSMS is carrying on, it might end up being left to the teacher whether or not they choose to do an online platform. Some teachers might return back to pen and paper. From personal experience, I am not the largest fan of Zoom. I end up get distracted easily, and I struggle to focus on lectures with my dogs barking and my siblings asking me questions. I tend to feel alone and disconnected from my fellow peers while everyone is trying to do school in a different environment.

    If there is a cross-over between virtual and online school, it most likely won’t be the same we have now. Hopefully, the pandemic is less of worry. Some students may still wish to remain at home because virtual is easier for them while others may want to come back onto campus. It will create a divide between the student body. Knowing the way MSMS is and the MSMS experience, I believe that MSMS should stay a residential school, and it should be teacher’s choice whether or not they wish to use Canvas or Zoom for anything.

  4. Chloe Sharp says:

    I agree somewhat that technology has opened many doors for us during this pandemic, but that doesn’t necessarily that all of those doors should be opened more than temporarily. First of all, I think we can all agree that if MSMS switched to an entirely online, remote setting, the education that we receive at the school would suffer tremendously, even if it was open to a greater number of students. I also think that enrollment would go down and those who did enroll would have much worse mental health because there is definitely something to be said for actually going to school every day and making those connections with teachers and classmates. I do agree with Muneebah that teachers posting their lectures online would be beneficial to all students in a Khan Academy-type style, but I definitely don’t think that should be students’ primary source of learning, or that MSMS teachers, or any teachers, should be required to do any more than that. Teachers don’t get paid nearly enough as it is, to put a heavier workload on them wouldn’t just be cruel, but it would also deter even more people from pursuing teaching degrees in Mississippi, breaking our education system even more. I very much appreciate the educational opportunities that MSMS has given me, and I agree that the Mississippi education system is broken and is in dire need of repair, but I don’t think that putting a greater workload on teachers or requiring students to suffer the mental damage of online school is the way to fix it.

  5. Khushi Patel says:

    I believe through zoom and other technology MSMS could benefit many other students from other schools. Teachers could record the lectures and post them online where other students could watch and learn from them. Especially with the education being so poor in Mississippi, it could help raise standardized test scores, college placement, and writing quality. The overall education in Mississippi would improve if all Mississippi students had access to MSMS teachers and lectures. I feel this way because I have experienced both a typical school in Mississippi where education is not taken seriously and MSMS where education is the number one priority.
    Some teachers believe the lectures should not be recorded because it will encourage the students to pay close attention in class. However, in my opinion, it should be recorded regardless and available for students to view at any time. When students are still not understanding the topic or need more review they can go back during their own time and take in the material at their speed. This will benefit each student who tends to learn at a slower speed than is taught during class especially because of the different schedule this year which caused all the classes to be taught at a faster pace. Overall, it would be beneficial for not only students from other schools but also MSMS students if the teachers started recording the lectures and making them available for all students.

  6. Xiaohan Yu says:

    It is entirely reasonable for MSMS to share the resources we have. In this school year, the majority of our classes has converted traditional teaching into distant learning in some ways: some teachers created useful problem sets, others found beneficial websites, and we even have loads class recordings that we can share with other students. However, I believe that even if we posted our resources with other schools, it would have little impact on the overall education of the state. The internet is broad, and you can find most of everything MSMS offers somewhere else on some other websites, Khan Academy is a significant example, offering amazing teachings to everyone, college websites like Yale also have many resources for college and career readiness, and even YouTube has some helpful content for schooling. So I believe that MSMS resources would only be a quality of life change, and would not be extremely impactful.

    Next year, I doubt MSMS would return of traditional learning. But if we do get back to using pen and paper, I believe most students would be excited to finally return ditch Zoom. Therefore, I can predict a increase in class interactions and student being more active in class. That being said, I personally enjoy using canvas and other online learning tools in comparison to study sets on paper. It is easier to operate and it can be accessed everywhere as long as we have a electronic device. Since the 21st century is very electronically depended, I prefer to embed more online studying even in traditional learning.

  7. Alexandria Kerr says:

    Virtual learning as we have it now is far too flawed to make into a permanent fixture of MSMS; however, if the virtual learning structure were to be improved, then there would be much potential to make virtual learning at MSMS accessible to more students in Mississippi. If MSMS wanted to make virtual learning an available option, I think it would be best if MSMS created a second school of sorts, one that was strictly online. Many colleges have separate online courses available, and sometimes even entire online schools. It is my belief that if MSMS wanted to continue virtual learning, then this would be the best way to do it. This is because the combination of virtual and in-person classes that we currently have is far too complex and difficult. Additionally, certain courses must be specifically tailored to being taught online, therefore it would be much simpler to separate in-person courses and online courses entirely.

    Making MSMS available through virtual learning to academically gifted students across the state would certainly bring overall state test scores and writing abilities. Additionally, a virtual MSMS would allow the school to take on many more students than previously possible due to the lack of restriction of dorm rooms. Personally, I knew a student who was exceptionally academically gifted (he had the highest average all through middle school and high school), and he wanted to attend MSMS but his mother did not want him to move so far away. In cases such as this, a virtual MSMS would be very valuable. I admit that attending MSMS virtually would not allow students to fully experience the culture of the school, but it would allow for much greater accessibility.

    Finally, I think that in the future teachers should record classes. This would aid students who miss class, students who have learning disabilities, students who have difficulties focusing, and students struggling with certain concepts. As for tests, in-person would probably be best as to better dissuade cheating.

  8. Henry Sanders says:

    While I do believe online learning has its perks at MSMS, the overall experience on campus is something to not take for granted. I know many students, including myself, whose motivation for learning has been on the decline since online learning was first implemented last year. The in-person experience of MSMS academics is a crucial factor, especially for the History and English departments that rely on in-class discussions. It’s important to not stray too far from in-person learning for students of campus but Recorded classes for students who are unable to attend class in-person or who may not have understood the lesson would still be beneficial in the traditional residential model of MSMS. My prediction for a post-COVID MSMS experience, canvas will still be useful tool to turn in assignments but tests and quizzes will most likely be conducted in person.

    However, that is not to say MSMS shouldn’t capitalize on their new found virtual-teaching skills. If MSMS’s goal is to truly improve the level of education in the state of Mississippi, there should be no reason not to introduce online courses or Khan academy type videos that would be available for students across the state. MSMS has one of the best faculties in the nation. We should use our amazing teachers to spread the power of knowledge throughout Mississippi by method of virtual learning. Children in Mississippi would have a greater chance of increasing standardized test scores and college eligibiltiy through courses meant to improve writing and STEM skills. MSMS now has the ability to truly be the beacon of academic excellence its prided itself on.

  9. Chingun Tsogt-Erdene says:

    I do believe that test scores and the quality education of Mississippi would skyrocket if MSMS were to connect with more students across the state through virtual learning. Although these doors were opened because of the pandemic, it should not stay permanently. This is because these students would not get to experience the MSMS culture. It cannot be felt or explained if students are not on campus. I believe that wanting to learn more and challenging yourself to the limits starts by moving into campus.

    Assuming that MSMS goes back tot he traditional learning environment, this would create a stronger connection between students and teachers. It will also increase classroom interactions. I would not want to have any more recorded lectures as it would give me flashbacks to how horrible pandemic times were unless a teacher or student was sick and couldn’t get to class. I don’t want canvas to be embedded into our normal lives at school because I am feeling pretty much done at looking at screens. I want to go back to having pencils and papers. Although there are benefits to virtual learning, why use it when in-person classes become available? Why strain your eyes to learn?

  10. Merideth Johnson says:

    I agree that creating an online resource for other Mississippi students could be beneficial to the state. It might also make those people who don’t feel like they’d make it at the “smart school,” feel a bit more confident in their on abilities if they have access to this educational material. Sure, it might make some people say, “MSMS is easy. I could’ve gotten in there. There’s nothing special about that school – even I can understand that lesson,” …to which I would reply, “Well…you aren’t a student at MSMS…”
    Teachers should definitely keep recording their classes for later review for when students need to get a better understanding of the day’s classes or for a test review.

  11. Nina Patel says:

    I believe that online school has opened many doors for teaching. I think that technology can enhance teachers teaching ability, but online education can only do so much. I believe that opening MSMS classes to the whole state would benefit so much. Many students can improve their test scores, writing ability, and overall knowledge. I think that opening MSMS classes will improve the education status in Mississippi since Mississippi’s education is so poor. I do believe that teachers should record their lectures because it will help the students learn more about the lesson if they were having trouble during the present time of that lesson. I also think that canvas has been a good thing this year because it makes the assignments more accessible. I hope some classes will be able to continue in the future.

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