Online learning in the world of Zoom

Tami-Ann Treasure, Opinion and Editorials Editor

The video conferencing software Zoom has become such a phenomenon since its launch in 2011. 

Zoom was merely a platform used for business meetings, but when the world was forced into lockdown from the pandemic, it became a staple for everyone and everything.

Zoom meetings were used for online learning, business meetings, birthday celebrations, funerals and broadcasting life achievements. It easily became the go-to for all the things that could not be done face-to-face.

While Zoom is highly effective for its intended purposes, it is not short of advantages and disadvantages for online learning. Students either loathe or love it.

Some students do not think that online learning is beneficial to them and it is hard to focus in Zoom classes. Kara Jane West, a GHC student with a psychology major, said that she can remain focused for 10-30 minutes in an hour-long meeting for class. 

I appreciate Zoom for replacing the phone calls and emails I would have long wait times for, however I cannot say that it is beneficial to my online learning.

The fight to stay awake during a Zoom session is very challenging. The strain on the eyes is quite harsh and staring at screens for the better part of the day does not help.

I can stay awake for 30 minutes max into a Zoom session. I have to occupy myself with some form of activity. Whether it be sipping tea with my camera off or walking around.

The idea of teaching via Zoom is very taxing for teachers as well. Elizabeth Dose, Professor of Psychology, said that there is an abundance of research that suggests that Zoom sessions create fatigue.

I often fall asleep 20 minutes into watching a movie even if I am intrigued, so Zoom sessions are like bedtime podcasts for me. 

Heightened focus on a screen can be very strenuous on the central nervous system and breaks every 10 minutes are advised to elongate one’s attention.

Online learning provides the luxury of getting work done at your own pace, but there is no real benefit if the information is not being retained.

Hannah Jenkins, a GHC nursing student, said that the only benefit of Zoom sessions is the fact that she does not have to drive to campus for classes.

Zoom sessions are great for students who are willing and eager to engage with other students and professors. However, some introverted students feel better communicating through writing. 

I can thrive in either setting but I understand those that simply do not care for online learning.

Some students are practical learners and need a hands-on approach to comprehend. 

Michelle Pineda, a GHC student who majors in psychology, said that online learning leaves her feeling unaccomplished even if she completes her work. 

Being able to stay home, tune into a Zoom session and complete my work on my time simply works for me. 

The workload does get overwhelming and I do lose my focus, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

Zoom sessions with an engaging professor during a short period may be beneficial for many, but the different focus and energy levels of students will never make this type of learning effective for some.