Video Conferencing Technology Connects Students and Teachers Across the County


Sophia Hilger, Writer

A new program called “Zoom” has been introduced to Howard County AP US History classes, allowing students across the county to connect and learn together.

This is the first year Wilde Lake has adopted zoom, which has a teacher teach from a “home school” using a camera and monitor in the classroom so that students at remote schools can join through video conferencing.

Although the program “Zoom” is new, this year is the third year using video conferences to teach classes. It was first implemented in a Differential Equations class, then in Ms. Pennington’s AP US History class.

“This new system is better,” said Ms. Pennington. “The first year, everyone got their own iPads, which made it hard to type assignments and students were more interested in the iPads than in the class.”

This technology enables students to have more choices of classes they can take. If a student at a different high school wants to take AP US History, but the course isn’t offered at the school, they can take it with Ms. Pennington. This also allows collaboration among students in schools around the county. “I like that I can connect with students from Reservoir, Glenelg, and Long Reach,” said Hannah Van Osdel, an AP US History student.

If a student is unable to attend school, whether it is because they are part of the Home and Hospital program, or if they are simply sick or traveling for the day, they are still able to attend the class.

Because of Canvas, the online grade management system, schools are increasingly adopting this kind of technology.

According to Ms. Pennington, many colleges are using video conferencing to teach courses. “A lot of colleges use a system like Canvas,” she said, “Everything in my class is turned in through Canvas.”

Some students enjoy turning assignments in online. “I like that everything is all in one place,” said senior Jane Hilger.

Other students think Canvas is not the best way to turn in assignments. “I don’t like how everything is online,” said Morgan Kemp, a senior at Glenelg who is in Ms. Pennington’s AP US History class. “I feel like it limits how a student can learn. I learn better by writing everything down, and in this class, everything is typed.”

“I think the idea of this kind of class is really great,” said Kemp, “I like that it gives me the chance to take AP US History, even though it’s not offered at my school.”

Even with the benefits of this program, there are still many things that have the potential to go wrong. “It takes a while to get used to,” said Ms. Pennington. “Any class, especially an AP class, has a curriculum that must be completed, and learning how to use a new program takes time away from that curriculum.”

There are also some device setup issues, said the Coordinator of Digital Education for Howard County, Robert Cole. Some devices that students provide are not compatible with the new technology, which could cause issues.

“This has the potential to expose people to content and experiences,” said Ms. Pennington.“A lot of hours have gone into creating this class. We are all very excited to share it.”