Zoom Wins Hearts of Students

Nina Burik, Staff Writer

As remote learning continues to evolve, synchronous meetings have become the core of classes. Even so, teachers have yet to establish a uniform video chat platform. Some teachers use Google Hangouts, others use Microsoft Teams, however, the majority use Zoom. For this reason, Latin is working to set up an educational account with Zoom. Despite various privacy issues with the platform internationally, both students and teachers are adamant that its features remain superior to all other programs. 

After testing out various platforms, Mr. Kanai says, “I personally prefer Zoom over Google Hangouts, mainly for the breakout room feature.” The breakout room feature allows teachers to divide students into smaller groups. This gives students the opportunity to do group work, an element of class that has been hard to maintain throughout remote learning. “While it’s not a perfect substitute for paired and small group work, being able to quickly divide the class up into smaller chats is incredibly helpful,” Mr. Kanai says. Aside from the breakout room feature, Mr. Kanai expresses the value in Zoom’s reusable links. He adds, “I also love that I have a kind of designated classroom space that students can access from RomanNet or previous email invitations, instead of having to start a new call every time like with Google Hangouts.” With regards to Zoom’s privacy problems, Mr. Kanai says, “There are ongoing privacy concerns, but it’s my understanding that if you are using the subscription version of Zoom, it’s fairly secure.” He also mentions another key feature of Zoom: the waiting room tool. “I also have the waiting room enabled, so I can control who comes into the space—another feature I don’t have with Google Hangouts,” Mr. Kanai says. 

Students seem to share a similar outlook on Zoom. Junior Olivia Frankel says, “I feel like Zoom works best—I think the technology alone is a lot better, it lags less, and gives teachers a lot more opportunities.” She also emphasizes the quality of the platform’s screen sharing. “The presentations teachers give on Zoom work a lot better,” she says. Like Mr. Kanai, Frankel feels the most significant feature of Zoom is the breakout room tool. “Being able to have small discussions like we do during actual school is very helpful,” she adds. As for Zoom’s privacy, Frankel is confident in the platform’s response to its prior issues. “I think that Zoom is now taking appropriate precautions,” she says. Similarly to Mr. Kanai, she highlighted the waiting room tool. “Having the organizer of the meeting approve each person allowed in the Zoom meeting changes everything,” Frankel adds. 

“I think Zoom has probably been the easiest for me to use so far,” sophomore Lucy Mitchell says. She too finds Zoom effective and the breakout room tool impressive. “I’ve had less trouble getting connected and it’s cool the way you can break off into smaller groups to do separate work,” she adds. Mitchell also reveals her feelings about the platform’s privacy dilemmas in the past. She says, “I’m really not concerned with any of the privacy issues…I hadn’t heard much about them until just recently.” Mitchell brings up an important point: until the Latin community experiences problems with Zoom’s privacy, it should not affect online learning. Thus, in this time of uncertainty, both students and teachers are relying on personal experience to inform their use of Zoom, rather than issues outside of the school. 

From its breakout room feature to its steady connection, Zoom calls closely resemble a typical classroom experience. Although many were skeptical of online learning at first, the platform has given many members of the Latin community a renewed faith in the school’s functionality for the time being. Mr. Kanai says, “I actually think that Zoom is going to be a great solution for the situation we’re in.”