by Yukari Plaggman, Clarion Staff Writer
John F. Kennedy High School has opened back up for the first time in over a year with many precautions for the safety of returning students and teachers. But to either their joy or terror, that is not all that has changed. Each classroom has received some new technology to help with the complexity of teaching students both in-person, and from a distance.
According to Michael Fry, Assistant Principal and one of the technicians at Kennedy, each classroom received “a polycam system with microphone and speakers.” This device directs the camera to whomever is speaking by following the sounds of their voice, allowing teachers to move around and address both online and in-person students at the same time. The school district also plans to provide new computers to go along with the new equipment for a more effective and efficient experience, though those have not yet arrived.
Although technicians were hired by the district to help teachers set up the new equipment, teachers had a lot to figure out on their own. Yasmine Henry, Kennedy science teacher, said “I was expecting some kind of training because that’s what the district said. [But] I haven’t had any trouble with it, I like it. I think it’s pretty cool.”
Similarly, Vincent Messineo, social studies teacher at Kennedy, said “I feel like it’s something new to learn which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just we have had to learn a lot of new things already this past year so I think I have a little ‘learn-new-tech fatigue’. I haven’t had any bad experiences with it yet, other than slow wifi and no wifi.”
Many of the problems arising from this new upgrade are not in the equipment itself, but the transition from old to new. Teachers with old equipment sometimes struggle when it comes to the compatibility between old and new equipment.
“I have an old-school projector. Mine won’t handle the new stuff,” Henry said, when asked about any bad experiences with the new technology.
In addition, the unstable internet connection at Kennedy has been an issue for some time, and with the additional use of technology and increased reliance on the school’s internet, the wifi system also had to be upgraded.
“All Wireless Access Points on campus were upgraded about a month ago,” said Assistant Principal Fry. “Since then, we’ve had some connectivity issues but the district has been working on a fix and I think they have found one. The privacy / security filter they had used was interfering with connections. They have adopted a new filter.”
Though teachers admit to the difficulty in teaching in-person and distance learning students at the same time, it seems that most are happy to have the students back.
“It is difficult to disrupt a routine that was working well for something that makes you take a step back to learn, but that is life. You have to continue to grow and problem-solve,” Messenio concluded.