Online class should be lights, CAMERA, action

Cameras should stay on in online class

Graphic Maria Chabelnik

I don’t care if you haven’t brushed your hair—you should turn your video on in Zoom classes.

Don’t get me wrong. I recognize that many students have limited WiFi, and keeping your camera off decreases data and bandwidth usage. I get that some people don’t have functioning video cameras or are uncomfortable with others seeing their surroundings. I agree that turning on your video should not be mandatory. But, if the only reason you’re hiding behind a little black box is your own vanity or laziness, it’s time to step it up.

Keeping cameras on benefits both professors and students.

With little to no faces on the screen, professors must feel like they’re lecturing to no one. They spend countless hours learning how to use new software to optimize their online teaching. Most are passionate about the material and want to convey that to their students.

And they’re missing the visual cues that would usually inform them that their students are engaged. The least we can do is turn on our cameras, not only to make their jobs easier, but as a sign of respect for the effort they’re putting in.

That’s not to say the efforts students are making are negligible. We’ve also been forced to adapt and are doing our best to stay focused and learn. However, it’s so easy to be distracted by our phones or lose motivation when there isn’t a professor at the front of the room. I find myself constantly slipping into daydreams or checking my text messages if I don’t keep my video on. Knowing that others can see me holds me accountable for paying attention and making the most of this strange learning experience.

Recognizing that your camera will be on when class starts will also give you a reason to change out of your pyjamas (at least your top half) and actually make it out of bed. I’m always tempted to flop back under the covers unless I’m all dressed up. It fosters a routine as if I were actually leaving the house and makes me more prepared to focus.

Not to mention, in a time where it’s easy to feel isolated, seeing other faces on your screen can help you feel less alone, and gives you more of a chance to make connections with others in your class. Watching others react to the lecture could inspire a shared kinship with a peer over an iconic reference or a point that you both completely disagree with. That way, we zoom one step closer to the classroom experience.

Plus, if my face was as cute as yours, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second!