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Professors need to be taking the initiative to teach students to the best of their ability.

With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the nation, students around the country are adjusting to most of their classes online. It can be a major modification for many that can include figuring out when and where a teacher will release their material, how long the lectures may be and getting used to being on a laptop or computer for most of the day. However, a main concern from students everywhere is whether courses online are going to negatively impact their academic career. 

With many courses now online, teachers have discovered ways to interact with their students. With online apps such as Zoom and WebEx, teachers are able to teach their courses as if the class was still being held in-person. Teachers can see and talk to students, while students can see teachers, listen to their lectures and ask questions without a delayed response. Although this seems like an advantage many teachers would take, it’s concerning that some professors don’t hold their lectures on Zoom or WebEx, leaving students out of an interactive educational experience. 

Zoom and WebEx work similarly to FaceTime and Skype. The apps let users see and speak to each other “face to face.” Teachers see who’s attending class and are able to show their PowerPoints while speaking directly to students. These applications allow teachers and students to continue most similarly to how classes were conducted previously. 

But, many students aren’t able to receive the luxury of a Zoom or WebEx lesson, as their teachers don’t hold their classes on those platforms. There could be numerous reasons why a professor might opt out of teaching through these applications, one being that teachers might not know how to use the apps to the best of their ability. There may be a concern that professors wouldn’t be able to fit all of their students in a Zoom or WebEx meeting.

However, Zoom allows 100-500 participants for prices ranging from $14.99-$19.99 a month, while Webex can allow up to 200 participants if the sponsor of the meeting has a paid account. Though money can be a turnoff, so far, online classes are only being held for up to one to two months, and once done with, teachers can disable their account to avoid these payments.

Although the professors who don’t  use Zoom or WebEx find other ways to deliver their content to their students, it’s most likely not as interactive. Teachers often send PowerPoints of their lectures with a voiceover, which is helpful, but students aren’t able to ask questions they may have during the lecture, leading to them having to email the professor and wait for a response. Also, with Zoom and WebEx, courses take place during the normal “in-person” class time, while non-synchronous classes send their lectures at different times, making it harder for the students to keep up with their schedule and stay motivated to work. Some professors don’t even offer voice-over PowerPoints, thus making it more difficult for students that are already struggling to comprehend information. With apps such as Zoom and WebEx, one must question why many teachers aren’t taking advantage of these helpful platforms. 

Kylee Toland is a sophomore media arts and design major. Contact Kylee at tolandkm@dukes.jmu.edu