Zoom Cameras: On or Off?

A student’s observations on the impact of having cameras on during virtual learning.

Caylei Caldwell, Copy Editor, Feature Editor, News Editor

Since PHS was in red status (all virtual) for two weeks, I wanted to try something. For most of my classes, everyone’s camera is off, so I turned mine on just to see if there was a difference. 

As a teacher, I prefer students to have their camera on,” English teacher Kristen Rogan said. “It really helps to see if they are understanding material, and makes me feel more connected with them. However, I dislike seeing my face on camera and understand why students prefer to have their cameras off.” 

Before I turned my camera on, it was very easy to get distracted and not care as much. Once I turned it on however, it felt more like I was at school. Since I am normally all-virtual, I don’t get to see anyone else in my class normally, and it feels lonely. However, when I turned my camera on, sometimes other people would turn their camera on as well. Even though I wasn’t even talking to these people, I felt more excited to be in class and it just made my day. I was more encouraged to stay on track and get everything done in class. 

The most difficult part of zoom teaching for me is really two things. One, I miss the interaction that comes face to face with my students. Staring at an empty room all day is boring for us. Two, is sitting and working on the computer all day and not feeling like you are really reaching your students. Juggling your zoom calls, with the technology needed to get your lessons across is really hard,” science teacher Tonya Lewis said. 

Teacher Jackie Selle said that “Sometimes when cameras are off and I call on a virtual student, there is no response.” 

Imagine trying to talk to a group of blank screens that rarely respond to anything you are saying. That is how teachers are feeling when they are trying to help students. I feel like it is time to change this. 

“In a perfect world, students would all probably have their cameras on and be participating in conversation, but that has not been my experience with the zoom calls yet. Everyone is very quiet and most of the time the camera is not even really pointed at them,” Lewis said. 

This school year has had a lot of challenges, and it is important to try to lessen these challenges. I think even if just a couple people turned their camera on for class, a lot of people would benefit from it. Virtual learners, I challenge you to turn your camera on and see the difference.