Zooming Away at UW-Platteville

One student’s opinion on the new on-campus, online learning experience


Elizabeth Kaiser graphic

Before this pandemic began, I had no idea what Zoom even was. The only software that I knew of that had similar features was Skype. When the pandemic hit, I figured it would be Skype or even Facebook’s video call feature to take the reins of online learning. Boy, was I wrong.
Suddenly, all I heard about was Zoom. Zoom in for this class, the Chancellor will have a drop in Zoom call, scheduled Zoom class, no Zoom class. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. It was stressful for a non-technological person like myself to grasp how to use the software and not get marked absent.
Now that I have had some experience with Zoom, I cannot say that I hate it, but I am not thrilled about it either.
There are pros to having Zoom. One benefit is that those who do not like being in a room full of strangers now can interact from the comfort of their own room. Another benefit is that it allows for the option of typing out answers instead of speaking them. Some students, like myself, dislike public speaking and to be able to text out answers is a blessing. We can still participate in the discussion without making a sound. The most obvious benefit of Zoom is it helps keep the spread of COVID-19 down in the classroom.
However, with every pro, there is a con.
One problem that I have with Zoom, and several others have expressed a similar issue, is that it makes you feel trapped to your computer. You cannot step away without someone pointing it out, even if you are just using the restroom. Another problem is that some functions that were promised to work in Zoom do not work at all, leaving students and staff frustrated and the lesson comes to a halt.
But the main issue I take away with Zoom at UW-Platteville is that it is being used for everything, not just classes. Events? It is a Zoom trivia. Club meeting? Zoom scheduled for this time and date. It is almost as if Zoom has become the go-to outlet for anything on campus. Only in Welcome Weekend did I see advertisements for events that were not on Zoom. But as the weather gets colder, the time for outside events is closing fast and Resident Assistants like myself are struggling to create something people can attend outside and still have fun.
Students are stuck at the computer all day this semester and need time away from technology. A chance to get away from technology and spend some time in nature.
Zoom is like honey. It can make things sweeter and more fun, but have too much of it, and you will become sick. If students spend more time online, even if some of that time is for events and not the classroom, then their mental and physical health could be negatively affected.