Edgenuity Issues

Published on July 6th, 2020 - Edited on July 9th, 2020

My 10th grade had an interesting mix of teachers. By the time I was done with the year, almost all the teachers I had at the beginning were replaced, one of which being an English teacher that was unable to properly handle an English class. He joined my private school mid-nineth grade, and I’ve spent two semesters with him. I loathed him so much that back in 9th grade, I wrote a 10 page essay on why he was bad and why he shouldn’t be invited for the following year. However, before I could escape him, I got a D as a grade (which is around 65%), due to not properly assisting us with the Frakenstein book (which we have had to read for half the semester). Since then, I have had other English teachers and I left the school, but the D still stuck with me. I have considerably improved my reading and writting skills since then and I wanted to prove it. That’s why I was looking into ways I could make up the grade.

Returning to the school where I got the grade and trying to appeal the bad grade was not an option, due to the school transfer I had done the year I got the bad grade as well as the original teacher quiting. I couldn’t do summer classes there either, since they were limited to science classes. Luckily for myself, the school I switched to offered summer classes for all subjects, including English 10A. Without consulting my parents beforehand, I applied to take the summer classes and I was accepted. During that time, however, I had no idea what buisiness deals were being done. When I had joined, I had expected either of two teaching methods, due to both being present the previous year (thank you COVID-19 pandemic) and the former being implemented for the following school year. The first teaching method is the classic one: Attend said class period at a certain time and sit in front of a teacher, giving you lessons and assignments. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, classes with these mindsets were moved to handling on Zoom. Alongside these retro classes, a new method of teaching arrived: Teachers opening optional Zoom Meetings for questions, optional lessons attached to the assignments and you just do the work. There was no need for attending class at a certain time and if you already knew the material, why relearn it? The second way is the way I prefer, but as long as it was one or the other, it was fine. However, what if it were a mix of both? How would that turn out?

That is the basis of the Edgenuity platform. It is a teacher-taught all-digital platform for education where you can learn the lesson from a teacher but take the classes at any time. For the summer school program of 2020, my school district has encorperated this platform into the learning environment and has made it mandatory for schools to use it. This decision has led to having yet another bad English Class, with the exception from all the other times being that it is not the teachers fault. Since I cannot leave the class, I might as well do what I normally do and speak up about its issues. No students should have to deal with this broken platform that has too many faults to be used in serious environments. A fair warning though; unlike the other “analysis” blog posts that I have written, this article will be structured as a rant. If you hate negativity, there isn’t much point of you reading this. I would like to get back into analysis blog posts though; I have one to write about an ideal school system (which would be an extension of the paragraph above).

  1. Whenever I navigate Edgenuity on my chromebook, I sometimes get a HTTP 401 error meaning I cannot access the page. This means I’m forced to use my primary laptop for Edgenuity which means I cannot share my screen with my teacher. I cannot use Zoom on my primary laptop since my teacher requests both a microphone and camera, both of which are broken on my primary laptop. I also do not want to install spyware (Zoom) on my primary laptop, but that’s besides the point. This has been fixed since then, of course, but some minimal testing would have sufficed in the first place. I shouldn’t encounter HTTP error messages from basic navigation of the website.
  2. Whenever I try to minimize the tab so I can go on another tab to take notes, the video pauses. My friend, Kalam, gave me the suggestion of using a Virtual Machine and while that’s a great suggestion, I should not have to deal with that in the first place. EDIT: Turns out that it happens only on Chromebooks (with Google Chrome) and the Zoom application. I’m not sure whether it’s a google issue or Zoom, but it’s not the fault of Edgenuity. It’s still worth mentioning here; Do not use both Edgenuity and Zoom at the same time on a chromebook.
  3. The subtitles implementation is flawed. Subtitles appear on the bottom of the video player as opposed to inside the video (such as youtube). This means that I would have to scroll up and down in order to get the sub-titles. With how short the subtitle sentences are though, you’ll scroll much faster than normal.

    However, even if sub titles were correctly implemented onto the video player itself instead of on the bottom, it still would not satisfy my desires, because…

  4. The video speed is too slow, and while that is supposed to make it more open towards others who can’t comprehend fast hearing, it limits the people who cannot comprehend slow hearing. Of course, if the video player feature on the site had features from mainstream video players, I would be able to speed up the audio. I wouldn’t even mind it playing at a higher pitch; I sometimes listen to music at 1.29x its original pitch because I like the somewhat-hyper voices (just not as hyper as Alvin and the Chipmunks).

    However, Edgenuity has not implemented a feature to fast forward or slow down the video. It’s irritating, to say the least, when I already know the material. I’m only here to raise my grade from a D that I got. It’s not like I’m failing.

    Most people I know are faster readers than listeners. Having a speed boost toggle on the Edgenuity videos would mean that subtitle users would not need to wait a few seconds until their next subtitles arrive.

    Granted, some of my friends speak slowly, so why can I tolerate them while I cannot tolerate the “teachers” (note the quotation marks) at Edgenuity? Because…

  5. The material taught in Edgenuity, while attempting to be educational, ends up being harmful to students. To quote one lesson, “Don’t try to be something or someone that you’re not”. Excuse me, so are we all supposed to be teachers right when we’re born? Being something that you’re not is literally how programmers are born. Kids shouldn’t enjoy LEGO anymore since they’re not builders. I guess no one can ever have a job, since you can never try to be something. You see how harmful these lessons are?

    You might be thinking that I’m looking too deep into things, and if so, let’s look at things with face value (aka what is being presented instead of trying to interpret things on our own)

    The course aims are to improve all aspects of the English that we speak, as in Writing, Reading and Communicating. If that’s the case, how do we have work such as the following?

    He took the Elephant - All-the-Elephant-there-was - and said ‘Play at being an Elephant,’ and All-the-Elephant-there-was played. He took the Beaver - All-the-Beaver-there-was - and said ‘Play at being a Beaver,’ and All-the-Beaver-there-was played. He took the Cow - All-the-Cow-there-was - and said ‘Play at being a Cow,’ and All-the-Cow-there-was played.

    The aim of this was trying to show how to determine who the target audience for a passage is. In this example, it is clearly oriented towards children, by repeating words. However, isn’t this course supposed to be oriented towards improving communication in real life? How could we then include farm examples here? It doesn’t make any sense.

    I’ve also had an issue where they try to get into my personal life. In a certain assignment, it asked me what creates images in my mind, and then it told me what they think should be in my mind. Even though all of these sentences make images in my mind, they determined it was wrong.

    I was wondering if anyone else had any issues with Edgenuity so I checked the Edgenuity fan subreddit and look what…interesting…things I found:

    This is supposed to be an education

  6. Their absolute insistence that you learn it from them is extremely harmful. In order to advance to the course assignment, we have to watch their video fully without skipping around or doing anything of the sort. You are to sit for the next 4 minutes with the tab highlighted (point 2), and no speed up (point 4). As well as being inaccurate (point 6), there are other better courses and works students can engage in that offer more face value than what is being presented. For example, I do my own independent writing on a blog. Heck, even the ones I’m not proud of still offer me experience, practices, and allow me to analyze the way I write. I already know on my own what words such as “analyze” and “theme” is; why do I need a computer to force me to watch it?

    There is a pre-test you can take, sure, but that goes over the entire chapter and as such, you might not know one thing but would know another thing. The forcing to relearn content you’ve already known before just demotivates them. Plus, some kids might need a different resource (for example, multi lingual students), but you have to sit through the video that they made. There is no “We already learned this” option or “Take me to the assignment” button.

    Your counterclaim might be “well, shouldn’t they first try out learning it from Edgenuity and then seeing if they need additional resources?”. Yeah, that’s a valid thought for the first few lessons, but the expectations for Edgenuity were already low. They force users to learn how to “properly” navigate their website by shoving in two 10-minute tutorials the minute you first join their website. The tutorial, in reality, was just common sense and could have been figured out by just looking at the website. They should have made the first time guide optional but just like the lessons, they’re the ones who decide what we may digest and what we may not.

    First impressions are extremely important. For example, in the video game world, they determine whether a console would be successful or not. New Super Mario Bros U was the Nintendo Wii U’s first impression and that’s why it was a failure. Meanwhile, Breath of the Wild was the Nintendo Switch’s first impression and it’s easily the best Nintendo console ever released. So, looking at Edgenuity, you could already see why people don’t like forced tutorials when they point out the obvious.

    To be honest, it feels weird that they want us to learn it from them, yet don’t offer up a QNA section of sorts on the lesson itself, with moderation to make sure that no NSFW content gets put on there. You can’t really engage with the teacher, so you’re going to have to use other resources, so why not just use the other resources in the first place?

  7. The amount of work served is overwhelming, especially to those who prefer to take their time, either to improve quality or require assistance understanding the material. As someone that does not like strict time limits, I feel emotionally destroyed when I miss one day and I see 2 hours of work. This past week, I have 8 hours of work missing and my mental level is going down the drain.

    Looking through the subreddit I mentioned before, I found this image:

    This is WRONG. They shove thousands of assignments down people’s throats and you can’t speed it up to try and catch up because of the previous points (can’t fast forward and force to watch the video and it has to be from them).

  8. The fact that you’re limited to one session is difficult for those on multiple computers. What if you have to transition between devices? I believe it to be an issue of fearmageddoning You see how this adds to the whole control freak issue I wrote about in point 7?
  9. Now, about the class itself, I don’t even feel like I need it. The method that is used to do the course is more troublesome than it’s worth, and I’m only doing this because I need to make up a D from my 10th grade English class. If I have to deal with all this emotional stress though, I don’t want to do this.

To get to the point, I feel like Edgenuity is a terrible platform and easily is the worst offender of the mindset that school districts choose what is cheap rather than what has the most value in learning. Edgenuity attempts to make learning easier for both teachers and students by using the familiar system we all know and love, yet removes key elements from it. Keep in mind that this blog article was only written in a week of dealing with this system. I cannot even begin to imagine how bad it must be for users who have to deal with this during the school year. There are even aspects that I haven’t gotten into, such as serious bugs that could potentially make the front page of r/softwaregore, the subreddit for showcasing how glitchy computer software can get. Even though I got out of this, I don’t think it’s right that others have to deal with this system.

This is why I’m making this article. If you find this on Google and are a user of the Edgenuity platform, please forward this to your school district and explain to them how bad Edgenuity is. Spread this message far and wide: we’ve had enough of using systems because the higher ups view your teachers worthless. If your teacher really can’t teach, either make her improve her teaching skills or fire her, but replacing the system with these robotic “teachers” isn’t the answer. After all, if the teacher isn’t there to teach, then what’s her job?

It’s certainly hypocritical of me to be working this much for a rant yet I wouldn’t use this time to do the actual work in Edgenuity, but that’s the thing; we don’t need Edgenuity. We have our own high school minds, ones that are able to think for ourselves and use what we enjoy. Everyone has creative skill and it just needs a little push to let it all out. Edgenuity, does not provide the push for creativity.