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Stop hating on Zoom

| Monday, February 15, 2021

To my classmates,

I first used Zoom for my Business Tech and Analytics course in the fall of 2019. Much of the time in class was spent following the professor’s instructions on working with Excel, and he’d have his computer display projected as a guide for students. Having a visual impairment, I’m unable to clearly see anything that’s projected or written on a chalkboard in a classroom. While screen sharing technology was not new at that time, I had never heard of Zoom, but I soon found how useful it was for my ability to follow along in class. In the past, I’ve been in similar situations without the knowledge of this kind of tech and I would resort to following along with oral instructions as best I could, usually getting lost and not having a fair chance to learn the material. Instead of having this class’s time wasted, I would launch Zoom on my iPad and place it next to my computer so I could follow the lesson just like the rest of the students.

One pandemic later, and we’ve become well-acquainted with this platform. From poor internet connections, eye strain from staring at our screens, students not knowing how to mute themselves and the notorious out-of-sync discussions, Zoom has become an essential yet frustrating part of our lives as we rely on remote work and learning. Personally, I constantly dread the idea of starting to speak only to do so as someone else does the same, so I try not to talk until absolutely necessary (even if it means receiving an atrocious participation grade). 

However, simply focusing on its shortcomings does not do it justice. Despite our educational experience being significantly altered, Zoom has allowed us to further enjoy the privilege that is receiving an education, and it’s helped us stay connected with our friends and classmates during times of isolation. Beyond this, it’s allowed me to be more engaged in classes, as it has provided me the chance to follow along with lessons in ways I previously could not. Gone are the days where I sit through chalkboard lectures, unable to follow along with much of it, and am only told to request a notetaker. Now, lessons are brought to my laptop where I  can enlarge the screen and actually learn the material as it’s being taught. 

Aside from helping to accommodate my own learning, Zoom provides many more benefits. Physical location is no longer an excuse nor a barrier to accessing a variety of services and resources. Learning does not have to be halted if we can’t make it to class, as we can simply log on from wherever we may be. Having the ability to adjust a variety of settings ensures we can adequately see and hear, or we can follow along with a lecture without feeling anxious about or distracted by a lecture hall full of hundreds of students. We also know that attending office hours, preparing for club events and other kinds of meetings can easily be done remotely, saving us time and transportation costs. 

Even when we phase out of the pandemic and return to only in-person classes, I plan to continue using Zoom. Upon explaining my condition to instructors in the future, I imagine how easy it will be to ask them to open Zoom and share their screens while teaching. By then, using Zoom will seem routine and familiar to all of us, but I will forever be thankful for what it has enabled me to do. 

Signing off, 

Josh King


Feb. 1

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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