Zoom University — Will It Be A Success?

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Penn State recently made the announcement that all classes will be held virtually for the rest of the semester due to the coronavirus pandemic. In order to do this, professors are now utilizing Zoom, a technology that allows students and teachers to connect via video at any given time. VALLEY spoke with Penn State students about their opinions on the platform and answer question on everyone’s mind: will Zoom be successful? 

Corrin Smucker, a sophomore studying supply chain, says she appreciates the efforts that Penn State is trying to accomplish with Zoom, but feels that it can be executed better.

“I think Zoom is a great way to keep students connected and accountable, although a trend I’ve been seeing with professors is not posting the lectures,” says Smucker. “Obviously some students are in extenuating circumstances and are unable to watch in time with the live classrooms, so I think it’s unfair to hold them to an expectation they have no control over.”

Penn State is just one of hundreds of universities that have moved to remote classes. Ohio State, Cornell and Syracuse University have decided to hold classes virtually for the rest of the semester, as well.

Students who are in fields that require labs are struggling with the software. Kyla O’Brien, a sophomore studying biobehavioral health, is extremely frustrated with virtual classes and emphasizes the need to return to classrooms as soon as possible.

“As a hands-on learner, this is the hardest thing,” says O’Brien. “Without the hands-on lab portion of my class, I’m expected to learn by PowerPoints and that doesn’t work for me.” 

Many students feel that Zoom is an unnecessary tool and that students would be better off completing the work on their own time. Sarah Purrington, a sophomore studying health policy and administration, feels as though Zoom is not benefitting her learning in any way.

“After one class was performed, I didn’t pay attention any more than I usually do in that class,” says Purrington. “It is more beneficial when the teachers post readings or projects on Canvas for you to complete in a time frame and make you search for the content in order to complete it. The interaction on the screen creates a window for students to go on their phones the entire time or use the internet. We are already a digital society and this will only make it worse.”

Other students are more in favor of the live lectures and are frustrated with their professors for their lack of effort. Merritt Shelton, a sophomore studying advertising, would prefer her professors to teach the lectures live.

“My COMM professors have chosen not to do live lectures and just prerecord them, so that we can do them on our own time,” says Shelton. “If this were real life, that would be amazing. But right now, I don’t think they should rely on just that. I want my money back because this is not what I paid for. I shouldn’t have to learn the material on my own. I’m not good with asking for help and I can be unsure of myself sometimes, so it makes it ten times harder to reach out to some of my professors.”

There are some students, however, who have a more positive outlook on the change. Hailey Imbascani, a freshman studying marketing major, says that she expected online classes to be worse than they are.

“Professors are putting a ton of effort in,” says Imbascani. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”

With all the different opinions in the air, the majority of Penn State is in agreement that Zoom will make things more difficult. However, students are more at ease knowing that they will get to decide whether or not they can have a pass or fail grade. According to the University, grades of a C or better will count as satisfactory, while grades of a D or lower will count as unsatisfactory.


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