“The distractions of not being in the classroom have caused the primary thing, a person’s education, to become almost a background topic.”
In March 2020, Zoom Video Communications’ stock was around $100USD. As of September 10, 2021, this number stands at $301.50USD. It is not a shock to see the exponential rise of Zoom, especially in a time where the world needed to rely on long-distance communication more than ever. What initially served as a temporary solution to an unknown situation has now become a part of our daily lives. However, a year and a half later, after countless classes and meetings on the platform, is fatigue starting to set in? Has Zoom made it easier to learn, and if not, what could be done to enhance the platform for the future? I reached out to some fellow students at BCIT to gain their perspective on the situation, and to evaluate whether they believe Zoom has had its fifteen minutes of fame, or if this is just the beginning.
As BBA student Emily Kwok-Choon puts it, “I think that Zoom/virtual meetings are convenient and make learning from home easy. While it can be frustrating if you don’t have [a] great connection, I find it less nerve-wracking to participate in class discussions. Being able to attend lectures online also saves me a lot of time, making it easier to manage my workload. For these reasons, I think virtual meetings could continue outside of the pandemic.”
Although technical difficulties may occasionally arise from using Zoom, learning remotely can be a convenient alternative. For part-time students, Zoom is a great way to balance work life and school life. Saving money on transportation and having the leisure to make dinner while I learned about Eisenstein’s film techniques were huge advantages. Like Emily, I’m optimistic about Zoom’s ability to continue after COVID.
However, accounting student Serafine Go has a different perspective: “While Zoom and other platforms has made online learning easier than ever, it also comes with its own challenges. A lot of students I met expressed the difficulty of connecting with other students outside of class time, due to the lack of opportunity to do so. You can’t really chat with anyone before or after class.”
I shared similar qualms with Serafine about the Zoom experience. While learning was made easier than ever, a big part of the post-secondary experience revolved around student life and culture. When that element is stripped, there was that indescribable experience of a shared classroom environment missing.
Furthermore, as BBA student Rai-Ann Leung shares, “There were pluses and minuses to both. When classes were held virtually, you didn’t have to travel anywhere which is nice. Although, not travelling anywhere meant PJs on the couch eating or watching Netflix. A student can easily lose the momentum to be in the moment and actually learn content from the class when they have distractions in their own home. With this said, I do not enjoy virtual classes.”
It seems the distractions at home have caused the primary focus, education, to become a background topic. While we are pursuing our diplomas, we are also fixing dinner, tending to our families and pets, doing our laundry, or browsing social media. With all these extra distractions, Zoom seems far from being an ideal environment for higher education learning.
However, these perspectives are not provided to discredit the impact the platform has had, but to suggests ways it could improve. As Ishan Singla, a financial planning student, says, “Yes, I strongly feel Zoom helped us recreate the classroom experience as closely it could. It could be improved if Zoom had integrations with Microsoft office suite or Google suite which would have made group projects a breeze.”
Zoom certainly isn’t perfect as it is now, and like Ishan mentioned, there’s still room to improve. By offering solutions for the future and adjusting the platform in a way that fixes students’ worries, Zoom could become a more immersive and integrated space for learning.
In conclusion, Zoom has gone from being a temporary solution in a pandemic to a mainstay for the foreseeable future of online education. It has its pros and cons, though. For part-time students who balance work and school, the platform saves invaluable hours wasted on transport. However, for full-time students, that quintessential university experience of shared struggles and laughter among peers is missing. While I do believe Zoom fatigue has set in for some of us, weirdly enough, I kind of miss that Zoom experience now that I’m a full-time student and back in the classroom. Maybe I need to adjust back to the traditional learning environment, but I felt that online learning expedited my education. I hope that as the world slowly normalizes, we won’t forget about this platform, but continue to embrace the convenience it brings to individuals who need it most.