Cameras Optional: Equity-Minded Teaching with Zoom

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Brief Abstract

How can we design learning experiences that counter-balance the panoptic qualities of Zoom? Based on the results of a study of student and instructor experiences of online synchronous learning, we will explore equity-minded strategies for teaching with Zoom that center humanity through the context of learning and encouraging student autonomy.

Extended Abstract

Video conferencing technologies such as Zoom are increasingly being used to facilitate synchronous online courses (Massner, 2021); however, current research is limited to faculty perceptions of student camera usage in these courses (Lowenthal et. al, 2021) and little is known about how camera usage influences student learning experiences. In this session, I will share the results of an informal study I conducted in Spring 2022, where I examined the relationship between instructional strategies, course design choices, and camera usage in synchronous online teaching and learning through Zoom from the perspective of both an undergraduate student and instructor. 

Foucault’s (Foucault, 1977) theory of Panopticism provides a lens for understanding the anxiety and pervasive sense of “being watched” that students can feel in online synchronous learning environments. These feelings are, unsurprisingly, not conducive to learning. At the same time, online synchronous learning, when designed intentionally, can create access and opportunities for students - and instructors - that did not previously exist.

Founded in the results of this research, we will explore practical online synchronous learning experience design strategies that seek to recognize the human-ness of this type of teaching and learning. Our exploration will focus on three themes - the context of learning, intentional course design, and student autonomy - with examples and activities that you can utilize in your own teaching practice. Participant sharing is encouraged, so come with your own equity-minded online synchronous teaching and learning strategies to share and discuss.