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Zoom: Crucial Tool for Online Learning

By Sumayyah Lebrón—

"There are a lot of classes that depend on the discussion that occurs in class, and when that discussion is relegated to the online discussion board on Blackboard, it isn’t as educational as it could and should be."

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This transition from in-person learning to online learning has been extremely difficult for students and professors alike. Many people associate online learning with teaching oneself, and, normally, the online classes at PCCC operate in that manner. However, in order to maintain some sense of normalcy with students during these difficult times, the majority of professors have begun utilizing Zoom as an online classroom.

Zoom, as stated on their website, is an “easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems.”

Professors at PCCC should all be using the interactive space that Zoom offers, especially throughout this tough transition. Teaching classes through Zoom provides the opportunity for discussions and interaction, not only between the professor and students but also between fellow students.

There are a lot of classes that depend on the discussion that occurs in class, and when that discussion is relegated to the online discussion board on Blackboard, it isn’t as educational as it could and should be.

Going back-and-forth in real-time with someone else offers up a lot more information a lot faster than responding to someone on the discussion board a day later. The insight gained from peers only enhances our own knowledge and allows us to build on personal opinion and view other perspectives.

Jeff Atwood, an American software developer and author, said, “Teaching peers is one of the best ways to develop mastery,” and that holds true, especially in the classroom, whether in-person or online. What we gain from discussion sometimes teaches us more than the readings, and the interaction is often more memorable.

Interacting with professors and classmates also helps keep students on top of their work and studies, which, from personal experience, becomes a lot more difficult when a person only has themselves to stay on track. Professors, and sometimes even other students, mention the homework that is due during or at the end of class, which serves as a reminder to those taking the class. Emails and notifications from the Blackboard app aren’t always guaranteed to arrive at the recipient, but Zoom solves all of that.

Not to mention, there are many students that are auditory learners, and choose in-person classes specifically because they don’t do well teaching themselves and learning just by reading. The interface that Zoom provides allows for learning that is much more similar to an in-person class than Blackboard provides.

For those who are visual learners, Zoom has a screen share option that many professors utilize to share PowerPoints, worksheets, and Word documents they would have shown or handed out in the classroom. It has all the benefits of an in-person class and serves the students much better than solely utilizing Blackboard.

Although Zoom is an online resource, it isn’t restricted solely to those who have laptops or computers. Zoom’s conference calls can be joined through the phone, which provides a great advantage to those who don’t have 24/7 access to a computer.

While Zoom isn’t perfect, and students still have the distractions surrounding them at home that they don’t encounter in the classroom, it is much more useful and beneficial than students teaching themselves through Blackboard.

We still profit from interaction and discussion with our instructors and peers. The professors at PCCC should take advantage of the benefits that Zoom provides students during this inconvenient change to online learning, especially as it will probably be better for students’ success in the long run.

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