by Zoey Dorsey
Edgenuity is a Mess
I’d run this program over with a train if I could.
Over the course of this school year, the pandemic and the regulations required to lessen the spread of the virus have made learning difficult. Having a large number of people in the same place every day is a fundamentally bad idea, especially because schools are notorious breeding grounds for disease. The solution that the school came up with? A dizzying, messy mix of online and in-person schooling using the world's most infuriating learning program— Edgenuity.
Of course, there are many reasons why Edgenuity makes me want to chuck my computer into the sun. For starters, the explanations in the videos and assignments are confusing and long-winded. One smaller example that I thought was hilarious for the complete and utter wrong reason was how the program decided to introduce radical functions by talking about the Latin root for radish. Instead of, you know, explaining what a radical function is. However, this does not just apply in small ways. Entire lessons can be ruined by the program not mentioning key details, including confusing questions, or having explanations that don’t make sense in the first place. For example, there’s this lesson that asks whether an experiment can be used in a slightly different way and work. If you click yes as an answer, the program marks it as wrong before a voice begins talking about how the experiment can be altered slightly and used. And the voice states this about the thing you literally just clicked on. This kind of mixed messaging is absolutely baffling. I am not the only person who feels this way about the lessons either. An anonymous student stated, “Math is a subject that is already hard to learn but online math is 10x worse[.] [T]he explanations were really bad”. Branching off of this, there is also a big difference between the practice material and the questions on the quizzes, as seen in this photo:
This is clear evidence that sometimes the assignments do not properly prepare students for the questions they have to answer. This brings up an important question: how would a person figure this out if the lesson and the assignment were the only things used? The average student would not unless they guessed. And then there’s the fact that the program requires you to catch up on everything before allowing you to do that day’s work. Granted, it makes sense because of the short lessons and the way the program is organized, but it makes it incredibly easy to fall behind.
Further, the quality of the lessons is awful. The microphone quality is absolutely horrendous for a program that can cost anywhere between $350–$1000 per student. The audio will often spike or bug out completely; it can be so bad at times that I find it hard to sit through lessons. There is no excuse for Edgenuity lessons to have this kind of quality with this kind of pricing. Even moderately priced microphones do not have this kind of poor quality. Not only that, but they could certainly afford higher-end audio leveling programs. It is also clear that Edgenuity does not bother with multiple takes during the recording process of their lessons, as the program’s teachers will often make mistakes. Although they quickly correct themselves, it can still make it easy for misunderstandings to occur. It really would not be difficult to re-record these 1–10 minute segments at all, so it shows laziness on the program’s behalf. Additionally, it is blatantly obvious how old all the videos are. Even if the poor quality is a result of the time the videos were first recorded, that does not change the fact that they could still re-record older lessons. Of course, then there’s the quality of the program itself.
The program itself is completely terrible. There are several bugs in the program that can range from minor inconveniences to major issues. Some examples include: the captions turning off between sections, not being able to move on to the next assignment for hours, the transcripts and captions not changing after the language is changed, and even the program shutting down entirely, usually between the hours of 8 and 9 pm. Kenzie Wentz, a student, even stated that “[T]he website would glitch and I couldn't do work for weeks”. These issues can make completing assignments frustrating or impossible, so it’s completely absurd that the programmers haven’t fixed these issues yet.
Wanted to work on something? Too bad.
Speaking of making things impossible, there are several accessibility issues with Edgenuity as well. There are no captions or transcripts available for the voice clips in assignments. This may be a feature that needs to be manually turned on by a teacher or a school district, but it’s something that should be accessible to the student no matter what. If this is the case, then this sort of setting shouldn’t require external input. Not only that, but this voice will often provide feedback when an assignment question is answered incorrectly. The problem with this, however, is that these tips or hints cannot be repeated. The only things that can be repeated on assignments are the intro and the conclusion. This can make it far too easy to miss what the voice is suggesting, rendering this feature completely meaningless. Then there are the occasional issues with the captions on the instructional portion. This can range from the timing being off, to the captions being entirely different from what the teacher is saying. It doesn’t matter whether this is a rare occurrence or not— it is completely unacceptable for a learning program to have an issue like this at all.
Overall, Edgenuity has been a painful necessity during the pandemic. However, it is clear that Edgenuity is a lazy and poorly maintained program; there are significant flaws in the way it approaches teaching, and the quality is terrible. It barely warrants the price, which is especially true considering that other programs, such as Khan Academy, are far better while also managing to be cheaper. Although the program has some upsides, such as being able to work from home and the ability to work at your own pace, the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. In the future, it is possible that Edgenuity could be used as a tool to go along with classes. But at this point in time, I feel that it is far too unequipped to handle teaching classes alone.
This is some text inside of a div block.