Zooming – A progress report on the move online!

So far so good!

The students seem to like having a weekly class session. (See left)

Group sessions with the instructor seem to actually go better online than they do in class. I think we can concentrate better without the distraction of the other groups nearby.

We have a student that signs in by phone, so we do not see his face. But connectivity seems good. (A couple colleagues have had to go to heroic methods to get class information to students, such as mailing flash drives.)

I don’t yet have any complaints from students about downloading the lecture videos.

An unexpected benefit: Two of my students have told me that they enjoy attending class in bed…

But the workload!

I was in a better position than most of my colleagues for the move online. I teach social media and content marketing, so:

  • the course is very hands-on with a semester-long individual project,
  • my students have experience with filming themselves and sharing,
  • I try to “flip” the classroom, so I already had online quizzes and some recorded video lectures, and
  • I have used Skype or Zoom for guest lectures for 12 years.

But to move all lecture material online is very time-consuming. Even with a wonderful tool like Premier Rush an instructor can waste two hours editing a 20-minute lecture on which she or he already spent a couple hours reducing from 50 to 20 minutes.

Planning online activities to take the place of class discussion and informal activities seems to take even more time. (Even with a once-a-week 50-minute Zoom session, the class becomes a “hybrid class” with a majority of the activities asynchronous.) And of course, the new activities need to be graded…

A big concern – the Zoom Platform

Our university, like most other schools, picked Zoom as the synchronous platform to use for our sudden move online. Zoom is cheap and even more important is really easy to use.

Unfortunately, Zoom seems to be really easy to hack as well, with more backdoors than a funhouse. Apparently, lecture-bombing has caught on with haters and pervs. If that weren’t bad enough, the privacy agreement that most of us OK-ed when we signed up for Zoom allowed them to observe anything on our computer and sell it to anyone who will pay for it (allegedly including Facebook and some Chinese organizations). Zoom says that their privacy policies have since been changed to be more standard.

A clear summary of the Zoom issues was posted on a leading marketing blog site yesterday and featured on the American Marketing Association Daily: Zoom, Gloom, and Doom.

So now – on top of everything else – I am taking some time to try to reacquaint myself with Skype and Google Hangouts… and learn MS Teams. None of them seem as easy for classroom activities.

Have some sympathy for the professors…



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