The Question: Should students turn on their Zoom cameras during class?

Four students weigh in

The Question: Should students turn on their Zoom cameras during class?

YES.  Senior Raquel Dasilva

I do think students should keep their own cameras on during class. When everyone has their camera off, except the teacher it must be lonely. Put yourself in a teacher’s shoe, having to teach without being in person is already depressing for them. Imagine not even being able to see a student’s face on zoom, having to teach to a bunch of black boxes on a square and not even get to see some of the faces of their new students. For all a teacher knows, their students are running errands, shopping, showering, and not paying attention whatsoever during class. Keeping our cameras on allows us to interact more with one another and to meet new faces. It’ll probably make the teacher feel more comfortable. Although, since we are home, things happen where we need to go do something quick in the house, in that case we should shut off our cameras. We should be able to shut it off for certain occasions, but besides that keeping our cameras on will probably bring a lot of comfort to most people. Although I also don’t think teachers should be crazy strict about it, because when you are, it’ll make us never want to have it on. Making students feel comfortable with keeping their cameras on is better.

NO. Senior Shawn Cohen

I really don’t think anyone should be required to have their camera on for a Zoom meeting.

I can understand, at face value, how having a camera on seems beneficial. You can see the student to get to know them better, you can see if anyone isn’t paying attention, and so on. However, I’d argue that you can get to know a student fine without seeing their face, the way they talk and type should be all you need. Obviously, blind people have friends, they get on just fine bonding with people without seeing their groggy faces in the morning. If people aren’t paying attention, then just ask them a question. Teachers have already been doing this in school if they haven’t seen you doing something you shouldn’t, but assume you were. More so, I’d argue three additional points: One, like I mentioned, is that you’re all groggy in the morning, and the only thing that makes you look like a zombie more so than sitting in class, is sitting in front of a webcam with your face illuminated with the glow of your screen. I’m sure plenty of people rather just talk until they’re awake-awake, and would be most comfortable using their camera towards last period. Secondly, it’s possible someone’s internet isn’t good enough for video. Sure, if you don’t have internet, then you can go to a learning center, but what if you have internet, just slow internet? Streaming your voice is a lot less data than streaming voice + video, and some people’s networks may not be able to handle both at once. Should a student really have to go to the school for the one teacher who’s persistent about cameras? And finally, it’s possible that someone just doesn’t have a webcam. If you look on Amazon, every major brand webcam is out of stock. While Logitech might be having a field day with that fact, it still means that people can’t get their hands on a good webcam nearly as easily. Which again, could in theory be solved with a Chromebook, but should a student need to fill out the entire Chromebook form, re-enter their Zoom login on their Chromebook everyday, just so the teacher can see them?

At face value, camera mandation sounds reasonable, but the more you look at it, the more flaws it has. Really, if you’re committing to teaching in a whole new way, you shouldn’t rely on cameras as a crutch for a middleground.

YES. Senior Elias Teo

I think students should turn on their cameras during zoom meetings because it helps the teachers out to let them know they are not talking to random boxes with no responses either. If it wasn’t for the teachers we wouldn’t be getting the knowledge we need in the future so they are already doing us a huge favor, so we should be able to help them back in any way we can, even if that means turning on cameras which honestly does not seem like a big deal. If it was up to me I wouldn’t mind turning them on but then if it’s just you with your camera on and nobody else turns theirs on, it just feels awkward and weird. Which I guess could actually be how the teachers are feeling because they are the only ones with their camera on during the meetings when nobody else turns on their cameras. I understand that sometimes students are busy or they are babysitting and can not turn on their cameras but if a student is able to turn on their camera then they should because it helps teachers and we should help them out because after all, they are the ones helping us in the first place. Students should turn on their cameras when they are able to in order to show the teachers that they are listening and being attentive and even to make teachers feel like they are not talking to themselves the entire duration of class.

YES and NO. Senior Mihret Amare

Students should have the option to turn their cameras off during class. Turning cameras on helps us better establish a relationship with our peers and teacher, and lets the teacher know that we are paying attention. Talking to a black screen can’t be pleasing to anyone because you wonder, “Are they sleeping?,” “Do they seem interested?,”  “Are they even really there?”

However, keeping in mind that all students have a different work setting, home life, and other factors that may weigh into why they prefer to have their cameras off is important. But other times, students are just simply not interested in turning on their cameras. In this case, giving a few extra credit points to those who do might ignite a sudden interest to turn their cameras on.

I think students should turn their cameras on during class, but it should by no means be a requirement. The only time I think it should be a requirement is if we are giving an individual presentation, which technically still isn’t “required” by most of my teachers, but highly encouraged. If cameras were required, maybe some students wouldn’t show up to the zoom calls.

All in all, I think it is important to be mindful of everyone’s circumstances while we navigate this difficult time together.