As students adapt to new forms of learning, there has never been a more important time for professors to be understanding of the various needs of their class. While synchronous learning moves to Zoom, the question of how exactly students should be required to use the platform remains up in the air.
Students everywhere are grappling with the reality of returning to an online form of school. For many, including students at LMU, this means Zoom classes. During this time, professors and students alike are understandably frazzled and stressed about trying to make this semester worthwhile. However, how much is too much to expect from students during a pandemic? Is turning on your camera for an entire three-hour PowerPoint-based lecture actually beneficial?
For some students, the Zoom platform itself has become a hindrance to learning. With unreliable internet speeds, multiple siblings at home using Zoom, varying time zones or a range of other issues, something as simple as turning on a camera for class becomes a much larger ethical issue.
These hindrances can cause problems with existing syllabi and classroom policies. This goes beyond turning on cameras of course, with some professors asking students to do additional work outside of Zoom class and normal homework. Professors should be amending these things for the current situation instead of expecting students to put extra effort into their classes, especially when everyone’s situation is so different.
Effects of the current pandemic include mass death, economic troubles, mental health tolls — the list goes on. It would be naive to think that a substantial number of students have not been affected by at least one of these.
In a normal classroom setting, showing up to class on time and saying goodbye or thanking your professor as you leave are commonplace and a sign of respect. On Zoom, the rules and etiquette are much more blurred. If professors recognize this and are accommodating to their students, maybe they do deserve to be greeted or thanked at the end of class.
This pandemic has caused a lot of people to reconsider a lot of things from "normal" life. Academia and higher education have not at all been immune to this mass reconsideration. Whenever we do return to in-person forms of education, many will likely wonder about what changes should be made permanent.
Perhaps we can come out of this with a little more compassion for others in our LMU community. Yes, things are crazy right now, and the rules should be bent, but aren’t our lives always crazy? Are there "normal" ways of doing things in the classroom (no excuses for late assignments, strict attendance policies, etc.) that we would benefit from doing away with?
Maybe that is a conversation for a later time. For now, we should focus on how to optimize our Zoom experience and make sure that every student (and professor) is given a little leniency.