Joshua Rodriguez (Year 8)
COVID-19 was a challenge throughout the school, from the classroom to the playground. For the first time in Broughton’s history, all students conducted their lessons from home, on their devices. Classwork was challenging enough without being able to talk face to face, and many subjects had to alter their curriculum to be completed at home. However, one of the biggest challenges was being able to communicate with friends. With the government lockdown in place, we weren’t able to go to a friends’ house, meet in public, or see each other at school. Without these options, it was a significant struggle to keep in contact with each other. However, with access to technology and a little creativity, new and inventive ways to communicate with each other were explored. In this article we will be identifying many of these forms of communication and their effectiveness in keeping students at Broughton connected.
Communication throughout lockdown was vital to the mental and cognitive health of students. We as human beings are meant to be part of a group. We are meant to interact with each other; to talk and listen to other people. Its why solitary confinement is considered one of the highest levels of punishment, as it denies any communication with others and forces you to live in complete isolation. Because of this, when we went into lockdown, many people suffered from the reduced physical interaction with peers. Communication was vital to staying mentally healthy during lockdown and was a high priority for many people.
Many people enlisted a variety of technological aides when communicating with friends. Technology has revolutionised the way we keep in contact with people. It is fast, easy to use and accessible to everyone, which is why many people used it to keep in touch with peers. They also, called and texted as regular methods of communication. This was an easy manner in which to communicate, but it felt a bit impersonal as you couldn’t see anyone. It could easily become awkward talking to someone through texting as we didn’t have face-to-face communication to back things up with.
Others also used apps like FaceTime and Skype for a more personalised means of interaction. These apps allowed users to see other people as they were talking, which made talking easier. However, these added features required lots of power, and the screen often lagged and slowed down. For learning, Broughton used Zoom, a face-to-face calling program that offered free membership during lockdown. Zoom was an easy way for teachers to host virtual ‘classrooms’ that everyone could access. Zoom usually performed better in calls but in large meetings and classes the lag was evident and audio quality went down, especially when lots of people were talking at once.
Social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter were also used as a platform for communication during lockdown. These sites allowed students to interact with lots of people at once, which was helpful as large gatherings were banned. Users had the option of doing live calls, texting, or posting pictures, which allowed for a personalised means of communication.
However, there were increased safety and privacy issues with online communication. In scheduled Zoom meetings and calls it was easier for other people to be added to calls. This posed a problem as the safety and privacy of students was a top priority for staff. Passwords and restrictions were added to student accounts which effectively prevented these breaches from happening. This allowed students to have the best learning space at home and online while in lockdown. On social media platforms photos and videos could be viewed by anyone who had access to them, allowing them to copy and save them onto their devices. To stop this from happening, many people switched their accounts to private, and only posted things that didn’t reveal personal details. Users also used other platforms to chat privately with people like Microsoft Teams and phone texting. This allowed students to have the best all-round methods of communication.
Communication through COVID-19 was a challenge. But with the creativity and ingenuity of teachers and students, we were able to pull through and improvise in our social and learning spaces. Technologies like Zoom and Microsoft Teams were useful in the learning space, hosting classroom discussions and letting students ask questions. Other software’s like Facetime, Skype, and texting were useful for on-on-one or small group communicating, and social media let people see what’s happening in the community, all at once. They all worked together to keep people in touch through isolation. While challenges like privacy and safety were difficult, by trial-and-error we adapted to manage them. We at Broughton have managed to bounce back from this and will be ready to face whatever 2021 throws at us!