How Zoom classes affect our quality of life

Nicolas Ziccardi, Assistant Opinion Editor

During the pandemic, many college students have had the luxury of continuing their education through safe and effective means with the proliferation of Zoom learning, which partially or fully replaced in person classes. However, while the opportunity to continue learning through seemingly comparable methods seems like a no lose situation for all parties involved, the Zoom classroom has had a noticeable effect on many college students’ mental health and quality of life. 

The Seahawk asked UNCW students to anonymously share their feelings on the move to Zoom classes and its overall impact on their academic experience. What we found was strikingly similar and mixed responses to the move, with many less than enthusiastic about the shift.

How have Zoom classes impacted you in regards to your own effectiveness or productivity?

“It has made me feel less productive, because I am spending so much time in my room and not having a set point in the day where I will be in class.”

“I have felt much less productive compared to when I had in-person classes. When I was going to class, I felt more active and the library was much more accessible. Now it feels draining to just leave my apartment.”

“I’m actually more productive in Zoom classes because I have so much more time to do work, but I also feel like I’m not getting a whole lot out of the work I’m doing.”

“I failed my entire first semester.”

“My effectiveness has not changed, but the time it takes to complete assignments to adequate specs from professors, takes 2-3x longer than usual.”

How have Zoom classes impacted you in regards to your own emotional or psychological health?

“I want to meet people and be in a physical classroom. Zoom is isolating.”

“I’m always drained, unmotivated, sad.”

“I feel more isolated during Zoom classes. I have not gained the social interactions and meaningful connections I felt with my classmates in prior semesters.”

“I have experienced less connections with material, professors and other students. As an extrovert, it has taken major effort to feel normal communications through Zoom or not communicating at all.”

Are you experiencing any major problems with Zoom classes? If so, what are they?

“I have problems with getting my camera to work for my zoom classes and in feeling connected to the subject material, because it is easier for me to get on my phone or get sidetracked.”

“One major problem I continuously experience with Zoom classes is the failure of professors to be proficient with the platform and/or fail to adapt course material to an online format.”

“I can’t stay awake, really tired.”

“I’m not experiencing any major problems.”

Do you have any suggestions on how to improve Zoom classes?

“I think Zoom classes could be improved if the [students] were given more of a chance to lead the class on their own.”

“Find a different platform to use.”

“No clue.”

“I would be okay with Zoom classes continuing, but I would want more engaging courses and for the professors to feel more comfortable with Zoom that way classes will not be disrupted with lots of technical issues.”

“Understand that students aren’t learning, and the only way to remedy that is to give students a break when they need it and give quality assignments… not “busy work” in order to learn over the platform.”

As we can see, no easy solution has presented itself to combat the issues students listed above. While not everyone has the same feelings towards Zoom learning, many feel a creeping isolation that has prevented them from becoming fully invested in their work and others around them. While productivity fluctuates from student to student, the mental stimulation we receive from in-person learning is simply not comparable. 

The now familiar sounds of a Zoom lecture echo through a largely vacant campus, and while this is certainly the safest and most effective method given the circumstances, that does not mean it is ideal. We may not know the full extent of the changes brought on by this pandemic for generations, but one immediately apparent result is the importance of mental health in our daily lives. Looking forward, the fall semester appears to be a monumental leap in terms of regaining a sense of normalcy on campus, but for now students must reckon with a less than ideal situation for a hopefully dwindling amount of time.