APEX, Edgenuity exhaust students, increase course opportunities
February 15, 2023
Watching long videos and trying to comprehend content on a digital platform has become the norm for many students, including junior Declan Curran, who’s been using Edgenuity for the past three years.
“I don’t think Edgenuity should fully replace teachers,” Curran said. “It’s definitely harder for some students to learn, especially if you don’t have internet (connection) but it’s a lifesaver if you don’t have a teacher.”
Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS), like many other schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), is using online learning platforms such as Edgenuity and APEX for several classes. These platforms use online videos and modules to teach students material that they would usually learn from live teacher instruction. Through these online courses, students earn grades and credit like they would through live instruction.
Since students returned to on-campus learning in the 2021-2022 school year, DPMHS didn’t require as many online licenses compared to during distance learning. Due to the lack of teachers for classes, like the unfilled position of a second math teacher for the past year, students have been requesting licenses for courses that DPMHS doesn’t have enough teachers for. Other students have been using online learning for credit recovery.
“I’d prefer live learning because there’s more interaction between teacher and students,” said sophomore Kristen Intal, who is taking AP World History on Edgenuity. “If I have questions, I can ask (teachers) and get an answer relatively quickly. With Edgenuity, you do get a response with an email but that can be anywhere spanning 24 hours. It’s not immediate.”
According to Edgenuity.com, Edgenuity is currently being used by more than 20,000 schools around the world and over 4 million students. In the 2021-2022 school year, LAUSD spent roughly $158 million on online resources, including these platforms. During distance learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of Edgenuity and APEX became widespread throughout the district. Although DPMHS has returned to in-person instruction, the school continues to use these platforms for classes, including AP Calculus, AP World History and AP Spanish Language.
“If there’s a necessity to (using Edgenuity) then I can understand why (LAUSD) has to use it but if they have the option to use a live teacher, that would probably be better,” Intal said.
According to Guidance Counselor Martina Torres, around 30 Edgenuity licenses were requested so far in the 2022-2023 spring semester and eight APEX licenses were either requested or are currently in use. However, in the fall semester of this school year, four Edgenuity licenses and no APEX licenses were used. APEX and Edgenuity are both online learning platforms with similar curricula but they are paid for differently. While LAUSD pays for the classes that students request on Edgenuity, DPMHS has to allocate a portion of their budget to pay for APEX licenses, which are $520 per student. APEX is sometimes used instead of Edgenuity because LAUSD rejects some class requests.
“I feel like (it’s) a little bit more hands on with (requesting classes). (For) the APEX process, it’s super expensive for our school,” Torres said.
Students have said they’re having difficulties using Edgenuity due to the overload of videos and the large amount of content compacted into four-month periods. Many students taking online classes have also complained about receiving classes several days to weeks late, which cuts the time they have to complete the course. Torres said that once she requests licenses for online classes, she has to wait for LAUSD to then approve the course.
“Students getting their classes late is a big issue,” said senior Yvette Mandujano, who is taking AP Calculus on APEX. “There’s been some things that could have been avoided.”
Other students find Edgenuity to be a very useful platform, allowing them to take classes they need on their own time and with their own pacing. Senior Sal Amador, who is using Edgenuity for credit recovery, prefers the digital platform because of the distractions that may come with live learning.
“(Edgenuity) gives people an opportunity to make up a grade, like mine,” Amador said. “Nothing changed. I’m just doing it on my own time and from the comfort of my home.”
Long-term DPMHS math substitute George Padgett says that while online learning is a useful platform for students who aren’t able to have a live class, the use of it over quarantine has seemed to worsen students’ learning gap. Padgett, who teaches geometry and precalculus, previously used Edgenuity but is now teaching out of a textbook. Other DPMHS teachers who use Edgenuity were contacted for interviews but they declined to comment.
“I’m finding students need a lot of review, prep and remediation on skills they missed out on or didn’t learn very well,” Padgett said. “I’m taking extra time to catch them up.”
Many DPMHS students said that they are disappointed by the lack of live teachers for certain classes and that although online learning platforms are a useful alternative, live instruction is still preferred. Many also said that a student’s learning experience is what they make of it.
“You can sit in a class all year and not learn anything or you can sit in a class for a week and learn a lot of things,” Amador said. “Learning really depends on you.”