During the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty members at UM who are teaching online were asked about the ways in which they use the video conferencing software, Zoom. Survey responses indicated that the video conferencing system was used extensively by respondents for teaching online. However, faculty members found that teaching using Zoom presented technical and pedagogical challenges.
The results presented in this blog post are from a survey conducted by CTLE in March 2020. The survey aims to better understand the experiences and ways in which faculty members at the University of Macau are using Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic. Responses from 138 faculty members were received.
99% of respondents found that the Zoom video conferencing software facilitated online class meetings. Online class meetings consisted of lecturing and feedback activities in meetings which lasted less than 40-minutes, for 42% of respondents, whereas 25% of respondents indicated that class meetings lasted for more than 40-minutes.
Open-ended survey questions indicated that faculty members made use of most all of the features available, including screen sharing, chat, polls, etc. A prevailing response indicated that chat activities facilitated student participation and discussion. In addition, respondents noted that Zoom’s integration with UMMoodle facilitated communication and teaching.
The top three resources as indicated by respondents were a step-by-step guide on “How to use Zoom for online classes“, video demos and blogposts on CTLE’s website, and support from the ICTO Helpdesk.
It has been an ongoing challenge for teachers to refine their online teaching materials and activities to align with students’ preferences.
Respondents were also concerned about unstable Internet connections, issues of access to IT systems from the Mainland, poor quality microphones, headphones and web-cameras, and a lack of software to edit video recordings. It has been indicated that “pro” licenses should be made available to all academic staff currently teaching.
Further Remarks and Data
Other challenges of using Zoom for teaching purposes were reported as follows:
· Time lag during screen sharing (teachers have to adjust the pace of teaching)
· Disengaged students and the difficulty to track student participation and understanding
· Lack of interactivity and eye-contact compared to face-to-face teaching in a classroom
· Lack of the necessary hardware, such as built-in camera, microphone, writing pad (for white board and annotation functions), headphone, to facilitate a quality Zoom session, and lack of software to edit video record of the lecture
· Need to multi-task (simultaneously teach, share/switch screens and read chat discussions)
· Lack of expertise in shooting conditions & techniques such as lighting, presenting a pleasant look in front of camera
· Not applicable to practical/skill-based course teaching which requires step-by-step demonstration
Figure 1: For what do you use Zoom?
Figure 2. How do you use Zoom in UM courses?
Figure 3. Where do you find support?