By Liz Calvo
2020 has been a brutal year for everyone, and we can all agree that taking classes virtually will probably be the most memorable part of this quarantine. Future generations will never hear the end of it, their parents and grandparents saying, “Back in my day, we had to take classes online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
However, we can also agree that without virtual learning apps, we wouldn’t have been able to continue our education while staying isolated.
Imagine how frustrating it would be if we all had to pause our education because we didn’t have the technology to continue while quarantined. Thankfully, we don’t have to imagine, because we are in a time where technology is advanced enough that we can take our education anywhere.
Virtual Learning Apps
As mentioned, virtual learning apps such as Zoom, Blackboard, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, and Google Classroom, have been a life saver when many schools transitioned from in-person to online learning.
Zoom is a popular app that is used by many students across the nation as it offers high quality video and audio as well as other features that make it stand out from the others. It is also newly accessible from our student portal app, Canvas. WebEx is another app found on Canvas that is commonly used by Barry students to engage with their professors; it offers features similar to Zoom.
Jordyn Hawkins, Barry senior and biology major, has expressed her opinion on these apps. Having used both WebEx and Zoom, she finds that WebEx has a lot of connection issues but is ultimately easier to access. However, Hawkins says that she likes Zoom more, “simply because the connection is ten times better and because it is easy to hear each other clearly.”
Elenie Gordillo, a bio and pre-med sophomore, states, “My favorite app would have to be Zoom because you can personalize your own background and you can ask to annotate during the class meeting, plus it can split people into breakout rooms.”
Other apps like Blackboard and Google Classroom function as a student portal that, like Canvas, allows students to submit their assignments, but unlike Canvas has their own built-in video conference system that allows students to interact with their professors.
Michael Chan, a Miami Dade College sophomore who majors in graphic design, uses Blackboard and Zoom most often. Chan says, “Zoom is very useful, but I wouldn’t say that it has the features necessary for a classroom setting, it’s more for everyday use outside of a classroom.” He continues, “My favorite app for classes would be Blackboard because it feels like a digital classroom with features that include taking roll, asking questions and so much more.”
If you’re looking for an app that allows you to collaborate on group projects, then Microsoft Teams is the app for you. It offers features such as creating groups and being able to connect with other Microsoft Office apps, as well as easy document sharing.
According to Eric Yang, a Barry alumnus and former SMIF President, “I [would] usually use Microsoft Teams during our meetings to connect with members and because it connect[s] directly with our Barry email.” Yang continues, “Not only is it convenient, but the platform is also user friendly and it allows students to create their own groups.”
All in all, we know that as long as this pandemic continues, we have no choice but to use our online learning apps to continue our education.
Hopefully soon we can go back to breathing fresh air, walking to our classrooms, and enjoying in-person learning, but for the time being it’s good to know that we can rely on virtual learning apps to keep us connected.