Since remote work remains necessary during the Covid-19 pandemic and not be pose further hinderance to complete educational participation, we bear witness to the rise of the Zoom University (ZU) that has become a top resource in the new hybrid reality.
This new social ecology brought on by coronavirus depends on universal internet access. This is cultural and economic effects on institutions of higher education where Zoom is a tool that is far from universally accessible. While most universities have allocated professional Zoom licenses to their constituent workers (teachers and students) affiliated with the ZU must begin demanding wider accessibility to ensure that face-to-face connectivity is afforded to all.
Zoom can do a disservice to the students when teachers don’t find a way to establish accountability through visual, textual, and vocal interaction. As a tool, ZU ought to be utilized as a compliment instead of a crutch in the post pandemic world. It should be a way of performing classes in an environment that extends from the class rather than the separate entity that it appears to be.
Pandemic pedagogies must be creative to allow for collaborative activity. Disengagement can be avoided when users hold one another accountable through the enabling of microphone and camera settings to foster social connectivity. It is easy to circumvent the accountability ZU participants have towards the classroom. For instructors, it may show up as non-interactive lectures with verbatim slideshows. For students, tabbing away and deploying a zoombots is too easy when this style of zoom teaching is employed.
If the ZU expects you to teach and learn synchronously, ZU constituents ought to expect connectivity speeds that are affordable and reliable. This may include universities issuing payments or refunds for “personal” home internet billing in the future. We foresee a moment where learners and workers will start to negotiate this expectations going forward.
Students pay money for a product that doesn’t live up to the hype. When they are constantly ignoring class and merely entering a Zoom meeting then they are being cheated for that product. So far, Zoom can be a crutch because it fails to serve as an interactive learning environment. It has the tools to serve as such, but we aren’t utilizing them enough. Underutilized Zoom functions decrease interactivity. Employing the items, social dis/connectivity can and must be mitigated when routinely incorporated in the ZU.
- Chat box
- Breakout rooms
- Emoji reactions
- Screen sharing
- Recorded broadcast
- Closed captions
Just as a stable internet connection is non-negotiable, nor are the items enumerated above. They are not simply options for the ZU community, they are requirements for maintaining the fidelity of classroom instruction.
Allowing students to express themselves freely through chat. With this some students may not want to express themselves vocally and can do so by sharing things in chat for others to view and discuss later or within themselves .
Breakouts allow for the free exchange ideas without the peering eyes of the instructor constantly trained on students. This particular zoom feature forces students to step up and take charge of their own learning. Breakout allow students to work as peers without fear of impressing or disappointing the instructor.
The democratic interface of polls provides the zoom space a feeling of a safe and open environment, especially when the anonymous response feature is used. It can be used to help instructors incorporate student suggestions and feedback in real time.
Expression through emoji reactions gives participants a mode of extra-verbal communication. Emojis elicits a sort of “temperature check” of the mood in the zoom space. A student can hold a greater amount of choice for themselves as well as gain a level of creativity in an otherwise bland environment. Zoom could enable a creative and somewhat relaxed environment while also facilitating the educational need. The use of emoji’s can fulfill that creativity via the ability to choose any reaction. This could do a great service to students who for some reason are unable.to show themselves via camera, enabling facial expression without actual facial expression.
Are a communicative interface that combines and constructs visual and verbal ideas in the ZU. In the zoom environment of hybrid reality, it encourages better recognition of everyone being on the “same page” with graphics that literally draw attention to shared information.
Is a popular function for zoom hosts. Its setting should, however, be allowed for multiple users at once. This enables multidirectional engagement and accountability. The Whiteboard function expands the writing space where students and instructors brainstorm and experiment with ideas. The Whiteboard allow users to share their work in a common place.
Personal image consent is ethically handled when all participants are aware of the recording to take place. Transmitting and broadcasting of the recording must be agreed upon by all. This issue of privacy is paramount. Whoever controls the mute button has the power. The host controls the microphone and therefore controls the narrative. All students should feel inspired coming into class knowing they have a voice. A rule of thumb is if the person appears or is heard in the zoom, they should be granted access to recorded meetings upon request. Also, more recording of zooms should be initiated because it is very helpful for students who cannot meet their class times, it should be recorded and possibly have forms where other students can sign a consent form for them to be recorded for their classmates who have missed class and if they do not consent, it should be allowed.
Captioning verbal interactions is probably the most overlooked and under-considered zoom function when it comes to the ZU. Some people will need closed captions if they are deaf or hard of hearing. Others need them for understanding speech and sound content when they are using zoom in various environments. Sounds can be muted and understood by zoomers in a noisy background. Third-party software that provides application program interface (API) tokens for ZU inhabitants should be free of charge and captioners should be assigned by the host to meet these usability needs.
As zoom becomes our new normal, this top source communication tool provisions should be made for securing privacy and trust among ZU inhabitants. For example, Zoom bombing by outsider (trolls, if you may) who invade a meeting that did not include them–even by accident–should not be allowed. I think more security should be put in place. Maybe by creating a form of security code for users that received the meeting link to use. ZU has not reached its highest potential being a virtual lecture class. Empowering the students to be more engaged and insightful in their classroom. ZU must set the bar when it comes to academic advocacy and achievement. All students should feel inspired coming into class knowing they have a voice.
Written by the Fall 2020 editors of CapturingTheCrisis, having deliberated on the merits and constraints of the ZU,
Nicole A. McFarlane