To say this year has been “interesting” is an understatement. Never, and I mean never, have I seen our world be flipped on its head so suddenly. Societal norms were thrown out the door: our country shut down, to varying extents, with the arrival of COVID-19. Suddenly, everyone was relying on Zoom, or a similar video/audio platform, for their classes.
Now Zoom has become, for better or worse, part of the student learning experience.
Lord willing, COVID-19 will become history soon and we can return to a new normal. Once the pandemic is over, however, students and faculty would benefit from keeping Zoom as an option. Yes, using Zoom may not necessarily be equated as part of the college experience. However, there are good reasons to keep Zoom as a post-pandemic option.
Student commuters would greatly benefit from having the option of joining class via Zoom. By keeping Zoom an option, commuters could avoid driving on days where it would be too dangerous for them while still being able to “be in class” by signing into their laptop at home.
Another benefit of keeping Zoom available in a post-COVID world is that more prospective students could be reached. By offering on-campus classes via Zoom, schools can expand their reach to those who wish they could physically attend college but cannot without compromising their health.
Would this completely fill in for “the college experience”? Absolutely not, but it would give a little sense of college life that no completely online course could give. Yes, a student may be at home, but they could interact with their professors and peers in real-time, rather than listen to pre-recorded material on their own.
Finally, having Zoom available as an option would grant both students and professors flexibility that otherwise would not be available. Feeling sick? Just hop onto your computer to join, or teach, the class from wherever you are recovering. Students can stay on track without risking getting their peers sick. Really want to do that 8 a.m. class, but do not want to leave the house before sunrise? Do what you need to get ready for the day and then tune into class from your laptop—all without ever having to leave the house.
Is the weather bad? Professors can opt to hold class virtually when they do not feel comfortable driving to campus. For professors, knowing Zoom is an option could allow for a hybrid model, part online and part on-campus. If a professor is not feeling up to hosting class in person for any reason, they can fall back on Zoom to teach the class on that day.
Zoom may not be everyone’s preference for learning or teaching the coursework, but it is not all bad. Once COVID is gone, schools should still offer Zoom, as students and teachers would stand to benefit from this option.