Due to the global Covid-19 outbreak, Zoom, a video communications app has become an alternative to face-to-face learning for students at institutions of higher learning such as Unam and Nust.
Being a student is challenging but Zoom has made academics more manageable during the pandemic.
The platform encourages virtual schooling where students can engage with their lecturers and other students through video conferencing.
Zoom is the closest thing to face-to-face classes because it has features that resemble reality such as options for students to raise their hand and speak by turning on their microphone.
Zoom can be used from phones, laptops, tablets and other mobile devices and up to 100 people can join a videoconference on the free version of the app.
“It is one of the ways of making the most out of a bad situation and in order not to exacerbate the Covid-19 situation.
There is nothing to compare to face-to-face teaching but, as it were, we are all adapting,” said Prof. Eno Akpabio, a Media Studies lecturer at Unam. He further stated that Zoom classes have some advantages such as a recording option that allows the lecturer who hosts the meeting to record lectures for those who are not able to join the classes.
These videos are then posted on learning management systems where disadvantaged students can access them.
Another decent option is the sharing screens function where PowerPoint presentations and other learning resources can be viewed during course delivery.
Zoom also makes allowance for class presentations.
On the other hand, Zoom is not without its disadvantages, according to Akpabio, the challenge arises when it is time for work that is practical.
For example, teaching students camera work when they do not know how to handle the equipment.
Furthermore, software skills are also a challenge as teaching Adobe Creative Suite requires monitoring students’ use of this resource and rectifying their mistakes until they demonstrate some level of mastery.
Conducting research is also suffering as a citywide or national survey cannot be conducted through Zoom.
In addition, anonymity cannot be guaranteed for survey respondents, which may result in social desirability bias.
Likewise, it is also important to note that the pandemic has brought to light the huge gap between students who are privileged to have access to the internet and those who do not have access to the internet, among many other challenges.
Joining a Zoom meeting requires a stable internet connection but connectivity can be an issue because data runs out and WiFi is slow or unreliable at times.
According to Rebecca Kapweya, a second-year Tourism Innovation and Development student at Nust, “Zoom at first was really fun to use in terms of the experience, because the majority of us have never had online lessons before, so that was quite exciting.
However, despite the problems with the internet, if it is not on the side of the lecturer then it was on our side as students.”
She further stated that she would prefer to attend face-to-face classes for some modules because she struggled to understand some topics. Most of her modules mainly consist of calculations and it took her time to comprehend them.
Other than that, her experience with Zoom has been great.
Online platforms are reshaping the way students think and teaching them to be independent and responsible.
Attending Zoom meetings requires the same attentiveness as face-to-face classes.
Students should commit to joining Zoom meetings and be engaged in their online classes daily.