Professors scrambled to find a way to teach while students searched for ways to continue with group projects and study sessions.
Zoom was the answer.
The platform has become a vital tool in the time of coronavirus and will continue to be a practical resource in the future.
Platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and OneNote have become staples for keeping students connected and engaged in their education. At Gonzaga, professors teach mainly through Zoom.
While I am saddened at the thought that students are unlikely to experience a snow day ever again, as the accessibility of Zoom allows for classes to be swiftly transitioned to online platforms, Zoom is a useful tool that should be leveraged in education after the pandemic has come to a close.
If GU continues to use Zoom as a tool, students who are sick will no longer have to spend time bombarding peers and professors for notes and homework instructions. Instead, they can simply log onto Zoom and continue on without missing a beat.
Despite the success of the coronavirus vaccination, it can be assumed that Zoom will continue to be a necessity in the next year for students who are ill as well as students who do not feel safe enough to return to campus. There is no definitive cutoff for when we stop using Zoom, and I do not believe there ever will be.
Zoom has become more than just an educational tool; it is also a tool for connection.
Events, holidays and even normal family calls now happen over Zoom. Not everyone has an iPhone for FaceTime, therefore Zoom offers an alternative to keep in touch with friends, family or even classmates.
GU students can agree that braving the cold of 20 degree Spokane weather does not always sound appealing. Zoom offers a way for students to connect for group projects and study groups from the comfort of their own rooms.
Zoom is a game-changer for reasons other than sick days and social events. Zoom, and other platforms like it, opens doors for people who do not have easy access to higher education.
College is not accessible to everyone. People work full-time jobs, raise children and support their families. Adding the extra time and cost of a full course schedule is not always a viable option.
Thanks to Zoom, students who want to continue learning but cannot make it onto campus five days a week now have just as great of an opportunity to gain an education as their peers.
Zoom has not only transformed the access to education, but it has positively altered the way a classroom is able to function while continuing to offer a sense of normalcy.
Students log onto Zoom each day and see the faces of their professors and classmates just like they would in person.
The chat function gives a voice to those who are too nervous to unmute and speak up. Features such as reactions and annotations allow students to participate in a unique way. Polls allow students to give honest feedback without fearing the repercussions that come with telling your professor you did not do the reading last night.
Of course, Zoom does not create the same experience that one may get from attending class in person. While the platform does a fine job of simulating what an in-person class can be like, it should not be a substitution.
It is much harder to get to know your professors and classmates through the computer screen. GU prides itself on its small class sizes and its professor-to-student ratio, however, over Zoom, those statistics are less impressionable. Students still struggle to connect with professors and the complexity of fully online education can cause major confusion and distress.
Zoom fatigue is real and is not something students should be subjected to forever. Students are familiar with, and sick of, the discomfort of prolonged breakout rooms and the awkward tension that follows after unmuting your microphone at the same time as a peer. However, these minor nuisances do not mean that Zoom should cease to be an option.
In-person instruction should continue to be the main outlet for learning in the future. However, Zoom should not be thrown out after the pandemic. Instead, it should be valued as a resource to accessible education.