How student interactions have changed in an online environment

Smart phones and social media are one of the only ways students can socialize in a pandemic.

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Smart phones and social media are one of the only ways students can socialize in a pandemic.

Online schools bring a lot of interesting changes compared to the face-to-face schooling we are all familiar with, but has it affected student interactions or socialization? According to interviews conducted with our fellow Middle College students, all of them believe that online schooling has definitely changed the way we talk or interact with our classmates and friends, and I am sure many of us can agree. 

For example, during interviews with five students from different grades, four agreed that they were talking to their friends less compared to when we went to school in-person. 

Sophomore Alexander Gomez said, “I just send a text from now on, and then I’m asking friends and classmates how they are doing.” 

Friends and classmates used to see each other everyday, though now the only safe way of contact is through messaging apps, which do not allow for as much personal connection.

Three apps were mentioned the most. Those apps were Instagram, which was on everyone’s list, Snapchat, the second most popular choice, and tied for third place, email and Discord. These apps have helped students socialize with each other during these times, and even make some new friends. For example, junior Albert Huynh stated that he was able to make a friend through the MCHS eSports Club Discord Server.

Another reason why student interactions are happening less often is that our online classes are only an hour long compared to one hour and 30 minutes of prior school years, which causes teachers to focus their classes on teaching the content because of the limited amount of time each day. However, according to a majority of the interviews conducted, many students have said that teachers have been creating opportunities for students to interact with each other in the lessons by creating breakout rooms.

Freshman Josie Zuniga said, “Teachers are trying hard to provide opportunities for communication,” like AVID which has started using Socratic Seminars and TRF’s as opportunities.

It seems like the staff has been making a lot of accommodations for the freshmen.

Freshman Juan Nieto Zepeda said that during the beginning of the school year teachers allowed them to privately chat with other students, and because of that Zepeda was able to make some new friends who had similar interests. 

There is also the Senior Buddy System which has had a positive impact on the freshmen and has been acknowledged by students in other grades.

Gomez said, “I think it’s a pretty good idea especially since freshmen are new and high school is definitely a new experience.”

While it is widely acknowledged that student interaction and socialization has been happening less often, it still exists thanks to the efforts of the teacher.

However, some students have suggested some ways to improve student socialization.

Senior Kevin Silvestre suggested that having students use their cameras during class would increase student socialization and stated, “It’s not even about unmuting yourself I think, it’s just the awkwardness of not being able to see yourself or your friends.”

Another suggestion comes from Huynh, which was having an open Discord server for everyone at MCHS.

By doing this he said, “It would allow us to interact with each other whenever we want and this would even give us the opportunity to even help others with homework or get the help we need.”

A fully online school is a new experience for all of us, and while it brings complications and changes for student interactions and socialization, it has not been lost, and will never be, because of the constant improvements the school staff has been making and will continue to, until we can all go back to school.