Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have been the platforms used to keep students learning during the pandemic. Another use for these platforms is virtual clubs.
One of the aspects that have been lost during the pandemic is socialization. When school is in-person, students have the time to socialize before and after school, during passing periods, and at lunch. All of those times are eliminated when students are on a remote learning schedule. Clubs have become a crucial component for students to stay connected. Why should virtual clubs stop when the pandemic ends?
There are clearly club activities that are best in-person, but that does not mean that all virtual options have to go away. Virtual clubs allow students from different schools or even districts to connect with each other. It gives more opportunities for guest speakers. It might be hard to convince a speaker to travel across the country to speak to a club, but clicking a Zoom link to connect with students is a low lift for the speaker. Virtual clubs also eliminate transportation issues. No club sponsor wants to wait hours after school for a student to finally get picked up by a parent. It also gives access to students who have no one to pick them up from an after school club.
The word inclusion has been more prominent lately since the push for diversity, equity, and inclusion plus anti-racist practices due to the protests this summer. Virtual clubs offer another vehicle to include more students and even teachers, too. If a teacher has other obligations such as picking up their own children after school each day, sponsoring a club is not an option. If the teacher can facilitate the club after he or she gets home, then maybe more teachers would be willing to have a club.
Virtual clubs can’t replace all clubs when schools are in-person. A gardening club can’t care for plants through Zoom, but having clubs that are virtual as an option is something schools should offer moving forward.
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