In April 2020, Zoom announced it had surpassed 300 million daily meeting participants — 30 times the amount recorded in December 2019. This influx of new users consisted of students, teachers and professionals, who have now spent months navigating the unfamiliar territory of video conferencing.
Although a new semester has begun and more classes are offering in-person options, many courses are continuing to be held over Zoom as COVID-19 guidelines restrict group gatherings. These virtual classes can come with their own sets of challenges, but following some simple tips can make Zoom calls easier for both students and professors alike.
The Red & Black has compiled a list of useful tips to brush up on your Zoom etiquette this academic semester.
Treat a Zoom class the same as an in-person class
“I think minimizing distractions and really being there at the moment is what all faculty would like with Zoom,” said Mark Farmer, professor at the University of Georgia Department of Cellular Biology.
An online class is worlds apart from a face-to-face lecture, and many students have been dissatisfied with the online format in regards to increased workload, lack of social connection and difficulty learning.
“It’s been hard to just stare at a screen all day and try and pay attention,” freshman psychology major Penelope Williams said.
To better focus on their lectures, Farmer suggests students put their phones away, shut down other computer tabs and just close anything that “could potentially create a distraction for you and intentionally leave them off.”
Turn on your camera
“The fact that all I see for most of my students is their name on a black screen makes it difficult to engage with students. … It makes our job a lot harder,” Farmer said.
At the same time, it can also be difficult for students to have their camera on because of distractions in the area around them. To solve this issue, Farmer recommends engaging with the lecture in other ways, such as through the chat box. On-topic discussions in the chat can tell a professor that students are staying on task.
“I've had certain classes where the chat box has been really helpful because people ask questions that ... can be easily answered by other students,” Williams said.
Take calls from the right location
To best participate in a Zoom lecture, students should be in locations where they can un-mute their microphones to ask or answer questions. But for many, finding these locations is easier said than done.
“I’ve had plenty of times where I’ve been struggling to find a location in time for a Zoom meeting simply because everybody’s trying to find a location,” Williams said.
Study rooms, dorms, collaborative study spaces and outside tables are all solid options for Zoom lectures. Students can also find a more detailed list of good spots on the UGA Libraries website.
Be kind to your professors
Remember that etiquette over Zoom should follow the same principles as in-person etiquette, and a simple “thank you” goes a long way. At the end of a lecture, saying or typing a farewell or word of thanks is courteous and shows the professor that you were attentive.
“That kind of positive feedback is really necessary for those of us who are teaching,” Farmer said.