Constructive criticism for the folks at Zoom

Sean Kleinman Sishc, Staff Writer

We have all, unfortunately, become very accustomed to Zoom. While its simplicity is probably its biggest accomplishment, being usable by people of all ages regardless of technological fluency, its minimalist design does lead to issues with versatility. At the request of Susie Burgess, one of many teachers who has been prey to Zoom’s lack of robust features, the Newswriting staff and I have produced a list of features which we think Zoom would benefit from greatly.

The first issue is one that is made apparent the moment a student appears in class: alphabetization. As far as I am aware, there is not any way to list students by last name, making attendance both far more time consuming and far more prone to errors. Though I will admit that this may be an issue on which students and faculty have opposing views, as an increase in administrative errors makes class easier to skip, so any change in this department may be met with controversy.

A more technical issue that was raised was Zoom’s lack of software efficiency, making the app difficult to run on less powerful devices. To remedy this issue, I will be pledging to mail Zoom a textbook on data structures and algorithms. Hopefully they can read up on Big O notation and get a few things running a bit more smoothly. 

This did not seem to bother anyone else, but my problems are more important than yours. Zoom needs to take the raise hand features and the “speed up,” “slow down” icons out of participants and create a dedicated space for classroom interaction. A sidebar adjacent to the video screens in which students who have their hands raised appear, maybe. Anything other than having to have participants open, especially because the majority of my classes do not take advantage of this feature anyway. 

As any teacher will attest, the issue of students not turning on their cameras is one that plagues distance learning as a whole. A possible solution may be a sort of halfway measure between on and off, which would be having the ability to show your camera to only the teacher, thus eliminating the social pressures that come along with showing one’s face to their classmates. This certainly won’t cure the disease that teachers face, but it may be an effective treatment.

But enough of the sad dystopian hellscape in which we find ourselves inhabiting, what we all need is a good bit of random variety. And what says random variety like random silly Zoom backgrounds‽ Maybe one day…oh no! You’re in the lion enclosure at the zoo! Next, get your jacket and gloves on, it is quite chilly at the North Pole! Variety is the spice of life, and we currently have neither.