Together but apart – LJCDS’s Innovation Department use of Discord


Brian Wu, Staff Writer

Many people are limited from their social contact and ability to meet face to face with people that they usually need to talk to due to COVID-19. This includes schools, whose students require face to face interaction with their teachers so that they can learn and grow their knowledge. Many companies and schools have begun using Zoom, a video call application, to fill that requirement. However, Zoom is far from perfect. With buggy invite codes, limited accessibility for multiple teachers, lackluster breakout rooms, and many more issues, some teachers have begun to search for an alternative that would not have many of the problems that Zoom has. La Jolla Country Day’s Innovation Department has truly lived up to its name in finding an alternative that can do anything Zoom can and more. 

Discord, a text and video messaging application, has been adopted by the Innovation Lab and brings with it many luxuries that Zoom simply does not offer. Discord functions using “servers,” which are permanent instances where people can chat and discuss topics. These servers can be customized extensively to include multiple text and voice channels, roles that give or remove permissions, and various other tools that help the administrators of the servers keep both the users and the server orderly. Tomas Robinson, valued staff member of the Innovation Department at LJCDS and creator of the Innovation Lab Discord server, says “Discord allows discussion which everyone is able to view at their own leisure. This allows students who are currently working on something to receive the direct and immediate help they require, but also leaves a trail for students who may be working on projects asynchronously to still reference any questions other students had.” This system is vastly more useful than both one-on-one emails and Zoom. In the case of one-on-one emails, the communication is isolated between the sender and the recipient, so if there was a question asked, the answer would only be available to the asker unless he or she chooses to share it with everyone. Likewise, Zoom’s communication is very temporary, as its purpose is mostly single-use sessions. Any text sent through Zoom’s messaging system disappears after the session ends, and any oral communication does not remain for others to learn from at a later time. By asking questions in Discord, the asker is not only asking the teacher for help but also everyone in the server that might have the answers and leaves behind knowledge that others can utilize. 

Tomas also states that “one amazing perk has been our students reaching out and helping each other. Given that the discord server is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, everyone is free to post questions (or answer questions!) at any given point during the day. Our Concepts and Applications in CS class has utilized this benefit a lot, as I regularly see coding questions and answers offered at all points of the day or week. All of the teaching staff have the ability to help out in a similar manner, regardless of whether it’s their own class, student, etc.” This is a great solution to the problem that Zoom has: once the session ends, group contact between the teacher and classmates is often difficult. As a member of the Concepts and Applications in CS class, I can personally attest to the help I have received not just from the teacher of the class, but from other teachers and even my own classmates. It helps lessen the pressure on the shoulders of teachers, allows students to learn from each other, and helps promote a friendly learning environment within the class. 

One of the major problems of Zoom is that it fails to allow the interaction of  students between classes. When students are physically able to attend school, students from different classes can interact and give each other knowledge. I have gained a lot of math help from friends that are attending different math classes, and, with the quarantine, my ability to seek out help from my schoolmates have been vastly reduced. However, the Innovation Lab server’s users can access the text channels that are dedicated to individual classes. As a result, students are able to interact and learn from different classes just as they are able to do attending campus. 

Now, more than ever, social interaction is an important factor of everyday life. As a result, we should be striving to find a better medium to communicate through. Though many people use Zoom without trouble, there are much better alternatives out there. With the implementation into the Innovation Lab, LJCDS has proven that Discord is one of those beneficial alternatives.