My First Zoom Class

I just taught on Zoom for the first time. It’s horrible. God, people, why did you do this to yourselves? I’ve only got 1,5 weeks to go but some folks have been on Zoom for months.

It’s boring, uncomfortable, and very boring. And did I mention boring? There is no flow of energy, and why do this if not to exchange energy?

Jeez.

Also, how come students thought it’s ok to sit there with their screens off? Is that a thing in online teaching? It’s absolutely ridiculous. I came into a Zoom room and found 20 black squares staring at me. Who came up with this idiotic tradition?

I had to leave office immediately after this sad parody of teaching because I’m not used to sitting for such long stretches of time. What a sucky experience. Bleh.

20 thoughts on “My First Zoom Class”

  1. “Also, how come students thought it’s ok to sit there with their screens off?”
    But the students might be so poor and disadvantaged that they don’t even own any clothes and would have to be naked on the Zoom call, or they might be so triggered by their own systemic oppression that they don’t want you to see they’ve been crying all day long about this. In other words: if you insist the students turn their cameras on, you are a fascist oppressor (yes this is an actual argument I’ve seen made).

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    1. Oh. I knew there had to be some ideological crap linked to this. But I’m not talking at a bunch of dark squares because that’s one humiliation too many.

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      1. “that’s one humiliation too many”

        You think you’ve got problems, apparently they want to make sure everyone where I work does ‘hospitacja’ (where someone sits in on a lesson to evaluate your teaching ability)…..
        I have no idea what they think doing that could prove (besides what everyone already knows – remote learning sucks).

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  2. Yes, sadly, lecturing to a bunch of black squares is the norm of the Zoom teaching. Sometimes I wonder is anyone is actually listening.

    Fortunately, I did have some students asking questions once in a while and I made them do a bunch of presentations as well, so that helped. I also dealt with a live transcriptionist, which was an interesting experience for me. This pandemic is a horrible terrible thing for those hard of hearing, especially if they are used to lip read a lot.

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    1. Tell me about it. I have a very minor hearing disorder, that is normally only a problem in noisy restaurants and things. I’m a decent lipreader to make up the difference.

      All the freaking masks and people behind plexiglass walls is making me feel actually deaf, at least in checkout lanes.

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  3. “how come students thought it’s ok to sit there with their screens off?”

    I had to let them do that because if their cameras are on the connection becomes too weak/unstable… Even having them turn them on when they talk was too much…

    Awful system, just crap on a stick…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was fine in the spring as an emergency measure with small groups that already knew how to talk together from having had class in person. As a plan, it’s a lot worse, and I suffered this semester. For a PhD level seminar I think it would be less deficient than for an undergraduate class.

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  5. I regularly attend zoom meetings and transcribe minutes. It’s awful. But I’m so glad to be employed that I rarely complain. But I’ll be glad to be live again. Someday. Somewhere. Over the rainbow. Ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah, teaching over Zoom sucks. I actually teach over another platform (BBCollaborate) but it’s the same thing.

    I did teach in person till this week. I think teaching over Zoom or similar it’s not that bad once you already have a relationship with students from in-person instruction. (I focus on the benefit of not having to wash my hair for the lecture ;-). The way I teach is I write on the shared BBCollaborate whiteboard on my iPad with a stylus. I don’t see the students, they don’t see me, but they listen to me talking and watch me write and draw on the white board, and they ask/answer question via chat. The lecture is recorded, so if they miss something they can go back and review it.

    Overall, I would certainly go with in-person instruction and so would most of my colleagues, but as a stop-gap measure doing it online is not too terrible.

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  7. I feel like this is the most bizarre time when higher education stopped being concerned with the delivery of quality instruction, but still concerns itself with managing the schedules of the students. It would be just easier for everyone to prepare a corse with lectures and assessments and offer it to students in weekly installments to complete in their own time. Yes, it would be like a MOOK but Zoom is just a really weak argument that students get something more for their money by attending college.

    We a witnessing a suicide of higher education. For example, rather than racking a ton of debt for a computer science degree, you can go to Udemy, take a couple of courses and make yourself a programmer. If you build a great portfolio you will be employable all for the price of a couple hundred bucks.

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  8. The lawyers at my university decided that we cannot force students to turn on their cameras during online classes after some faculty tried to do that. And the video does cause problems if students have weak internet connections. One thing that you can do to improve things is ask them to set an avatar, a photo that will appear instead of the black box. I have lots of photos of dogs, cats, and cartoon characters in my courses and those are an improvement on the black boxes.

    I’ve also found it helps to boost engagement during class if I conduct simple polls using the polling tool or or ask the students to make use of the reaction buttons to indicate their opinions on things – clap if you think A, heart if you think B type things. It’s not great, but there are some little things you can do to make it better.

    And those of us in the languages are going to see lots of collapsing programs because of online teaching. The students in the lower level language courses aren’t learning very much and in a year or two those students are not going to become majors or minors and programs will get axed or downgraded as enrollments in the upper-level courses collapse.

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    1. I’m sorry, I can’t process anything after the word “lawyers.” Lawyers? I mean, lawyers??

      We are screwed.

      But yes, absolutely, we are in deep shit with language courses. Deep, deep shit. You can’t teach language without human interaction. Study Abroad has been destroyed. Even the simple advice like “hang out with some native speakers” lost its meaning.

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