With social distancing in place, Zoom has become a dominant part of the lives of many college students. Students are using Zoom for classes daily, meeting up with their friends online, group meetings, and more. Zoom offers a variety of features such as virtual backgrounds, chat option, and screen sharing. However, do these features outweigh the negatives students are facing as they learn on Zoom?
Personally, Zoom learning has not been effective for me. Many households can relate to not having internet or having slow internet. With a slow internet, I face numerous disruptions throughout the class session. During a 3 hour class, I lost connection about 10 times while listening to my peers present. Besides losing connection, it was difficult to even distinguish the words they were presenting. Furthermore, videos shown on Zoom often lag and the audio is unclear. If students can’t distinguish what their professors and peers are saying, are they really retaining any material from the lecture? Clearly, students are retaining less than when they are in their physical classes.
Working on group projects can be a problem when everyone is at home. Students try to meet with each other over Zoom to work on projects, but when they are not physically facing each other, they may lack motivation to complete their tasks. After all, it’s hard to chase after someone if they decide not to go online or read their messages. Presentations for group projects on Zoom are not teaching students the skill of presenting online. Rather, students are safe behind their screens with their notes. The skills that students gain when they are physically in class are not present over Zoom classes.
Another recent phenomenon to take into account is Zoom Bombing. Zoom Bombing refers to strangers invading class sessions with the goal to disrupt and cause confusion among the class. More and more universities have been encountering this situation in the past few weeks. This week, my information security class experienced 2 Zoom Bombings in one session. The unwelcome guests made funny noises and rude remarks to the students in the class. It was very disruptive to the class and may have offended some students. There have been worse cases in other universities. I recall reading an article about a hacker who took over screen sharing and showed pictures of profanity. If the number of Zoom Bombing cases continue to increase, learning on Zoom will become even more difficult for students to focus in class.
Zoom learning is definitely not worth our regular tuition. Zoom Bombing and internet problems are only the starting points. The constant disruptions are negatively impacting the way college students work and learn together. Learning online can be tough during these times, but let’s try our best this semester!
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