Being in hybrid ("concurrent") learning mode throughout the first months of school has felt strange for many students at Ursuline. It has taken time to get used to seeing half of your classmates on a board, where they are displayed in their own homes, rather than working with them side by side in a classroom. Many students, including myself, have felt it has been difficult to adjust to being distant from those who are virtual. During the pandemic, everyone has faced challenges they have had to overcome. In school, I was challenged with how I would connect and work with those in a different cohort. However, we can solve any problem when we work together!
In Mrs. MacKenzie’s AP Computer Science Principles class, we are learning about concepts involving computers, data, coding, and programming and their impact on the world around us. The challenge of connecting the virtual classroom and the in-person classroom was put to the test one October morning during class. I was at home, connected to the classroom via Zoom, on this particular day. We were tackling the problem of sending messages to another device using IP addresses and bits - a bit is the smallest unit of data in a computer and makes up everyone on the Internet. We were each given a partner and we had to figure out their IP address and how to send a message to their device. I was partnered with Amanda, who is in a different cohort than me, meaning she was in school and I was at home. We had to connect, even though we were physically separated, through code. At first, it was difficult to communicate with her because I was not sitting next to her. We tried guessing each other’s IP addresses but were unsuccessful. We ultimately decided it was easiest if she joined the call and told me her IP address that way. It was strange for her to be on Zoom from inside the classroom, but it allowed us to connect the two spaces. Amanda and I persevered through the separation obstacle and were able to communicate with each other using coding, despite being apart.
When asked about this challenge, Amanda said, “In computer science, we learn about other ways to communicate with our friends without seeing them in person. We had to send a message to each other, using code, even though we weren’t together! It was strange working with someone at home while I was at school, but we were able to complete the project.” Working through a project when you are not in the same space as your collaborator can be difficult. The problems we faced were similar to those faced in workplaces today, having to connect virtually. This allowed the students to gain real-world experience. These challenges do not have to be a setback for students, though. Persevering through these problems strengthens our Ursuline community as a whole. We have to work together through these difficult times because it has affected everyone’s daily lives. Together we can overcome any challenges we face!