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Remote Class Camera Policies


SNAILS
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SNAILS
  • Law Student

It all depends if you want to be a "camera on" or "camera off" Zoom student.

For "camera on" males you will want to dress a little nicer (hoodie, pajama pants) whereas for a "camera off" male you can be a bit more informal (t-shirt only). I personally invested in a brand new pair of pajama pants just last week and started combing my hair to reflect the more formal attitudes of 2022.

Females are a bit more complex. You will want to keep your camera off on most days. "Camera Off" females tend to leave their camera on for about 5 seconds after signing in, still in bed, drinking a coffee, with their hair in a rat's nest. "Camera on" females brush their hair most days and tend to wear fairly formal clothes for law school (sweater, pajama pants). Camera off females tend to sign on unexpectedly every 10th day or so in full make up, dressed nicely, looking like they are about to go out.

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GreyDude
  • Applicant
6 hours ago, SNAILS said:

It all depends if you want to be a "camera on" or "camera off" Zoom student.

For "camera on" males you will want to dress a little nicer (hoodie, pajama pants) whereas for a "camera off" male you can be a bit more informal (t-shirt only). I personally invested in a brand new pair of pajama pants just last week and started combing my hair to reflect the more formal attitudes of 2022.

Females are a bit more complex. You will want to keep your camera off on most days. "Camera Off" females tend to leave their camera on for about 5 seconds after signing in, still in bed, drinking a coffee, with their hair in a rat's nest. "Camera on" females brush their hair most days and tend to wear fairly formal clothes for law school (sweater, pajama pants). Camera off females tend to sign on unexpectedly every 10th day or so in full make up, dressed nicely, looking like they are about to go out.

This assumes that 'camera off' is a live option. When I teach on Zoom, I ask all my students to keep their cameras on. If they keep them off I cold call them from time to time and if they don't respond I mark them absent. 

Teaching to black screens is alienating and dehumanizing for the teacher, and leaving yourself behind a blank screen also alienates a student. This is part (only part) of the reason that online "delivery" is a poor substitute for teaching face-to-face. 

Edited by GreyDude
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Ben
  • Law Student
21 minutes ago, GreyDude said:

This assumes that 'camera off' is a live option. When I teach on Zoom, I ask all my students to keep their cameras on. If they keep them off I cold call them from time to time and if they don't respond I mark them absent. 

Teaching to black screens is alienating and dehumanizing for the teacher, and leaving yourself behind a blank screen also alienates a student. This is part (only part) of the reason that online "delivery" is a poor substitute for teaching face-to-face. 

There's a pretty solid contingent of students who view this as damaging to their mental health, at least where I go to school. 

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GreyDude
  • Applicant
11 minutes ago, Ben said:

There's a pretty solid contingent of students who view this as damaging to their mental health, at least where I go to school. 

If by "this" you mean online instruction and the things that go along with it, then I agree fully—that is, I think that those students are correct. 

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Ben
  • Law Student
8 minutes ago, GreyDude said:

If by "this" you mean online instruction and the things that go along with it, then I agree fully—that is, I think that those students are correct. 

I'm talking about being required to turn one's camera on. I definitely agree with you about online instruction and the things that go along with it. 

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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer

There's also equity and privacy issues that go along with mandating students have their cameras on. @Jaggers mentioned on the discord that there are also legal issues with employers requiring employees to turn cameras on, and I bet there are hypothetical situations where requiring a camera to be on could rise to the level of tortious conduct, depending on jurisdiction. 

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GreyDude
  • Applicant
2 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

There's also equity and privacy issues that go along with mandating students have their cameras on. @Jaggers mentioned on the discord that there are also legal issues with employers requiring employees to turn cameras on, and I bet there are hypothetical situations where requiring a camera to be on could rise to the level of tortious conduct, depending on jurisdiction. 

Now, I'm in a civil code context, so perhaps things are different here.

We have received conflicting legal opinions on cameras, and none of us actually require that cameras be on—nor do we impose penalties simply for leaving them off. However, I make sure that my students know that I anticipate that they will have them on. 

On the one hand, my union has obtained a legal opinion to the effect that we cannot require students to show their homes, etc., and that there is also a right of non-students not to appear in the video meeting if they do not wish to do so. They also have the right not to be recorded without their consent (recording classes is generally banned at my college without special permission—they are subject to copyright, which is owned by the prof). But since the video meeting is equivalent to a classroom, or so we are told, and since students do not have the right not to be seen in a classroom, the opinion concluded that they also do not have an automatic right not to appear on the screen during class as long as the other issues are dealt with—blocking backgrounds, for example. This is also true of teachers, who do not have the right not to be visible to students, but who do have the right not to show their homes or families, and who also have the right not to have their classes recorded without permission. On the other hand, I am aware of an opinion according to to which everyone in the meeting has a universal right not to show their face, but to be frank this makes little sense to me. I have also not been permitted to read that opinion, while the first one has been given to me in writing, so it's unsurprising I find the first one more convincing.

I was able to observe my own stepkid the other day, "in class" with the camera off, the sound turned down, playing with a kitten and talking on the phone to a friend. When I pointed out that I could see her prof was speaking and supposedly leading a class, she replied that she didn't care, because it was online. When I pointed out that she was being deeply disrespectful to the prof and the rest of the class, she indicated that since the prof didn't know, it didn't matter. I also know (obviously anecdotally) from conversations with my own students that this approach is more common than we might wish. I simply let my students know that it will not fly with me.

Now, as I said, nobody I know (including myself) actually mandates that cameras must be on, nor imposes penalties for keeping them off. However, with the camera off I have no evidence that there is a human being on the other end unless they speak or send a text. I make sure that students are aware of this, and of my strong preference for cameras to be on, and in that context I repeat and reinforce the expectation that they will be active participants (my classes are not mere lectures). I also have strict attendance rules with penalties for non-attendance. So since, if your camera is off, the only way you are able to demonstrate your participation in the meeting is by responding with your voice, I have created the rule that anyone with their camera off who does not respond when called upon shall be assumed to be absent, whether or not their computer is connected to the meeting (if their microphone is not working, they can send a text to indicate that they heard the question and could not answer verbally). Absent penalties are then applied.  

On equity, we have been told that as long as students are all ensured access to required equipment and wifi, then there is little concern for that with regard to cameras. But perhaps you have something else in mind. 

I view the classroom as a sacred space and education as a good in itself. But the online "classroom" is dehumanizing. It is alienating. It has the potential to destroy the teacher-student relationship by turning education into a mere service that is being provided to a client, as though teaching were the mere impartation of information. This is probably why those who are also pushing for greater commodification of education love the online classroom. It promotes their provider-client model. Call me old-fashioned, I guess. Educators are not in the service industry, and students are not clients.

Also, frankly, the amount of stress and sadness associated with teaching a class to 31 black squares is insupportable for me. I have to see and interact with my students, for my own psychological health—and frankly, so that I can give a damn about them as human beings. But that's me, I suppose. 

(@Mods... I apologize for apparently derailing this thread. Um... yeah, dress appropriately in a Zoom meeting). 

Edited by GreyDude
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easttowest
  • Lawyer

I gave a lecture at my law school in the fall and man was it weird just talking to nobody for 90 mins. Can’t imagine that every day. 

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Barry
  • Law Student

I’ve had every single professor state either a preference or ask for volunteers to have some cameras on. People still don’t do it. I always do if there’s a few people but if it’s just me I imagine that’s even more awkward. I get the privacy aspect but it’s also a new world where things are done online. Forcing people to do it might not be the best option currently, but if people are going to want to continue remote learning/work (which also mitigates a lot of equity issues too) the camera is going to play a big role in it. I’m in favour of encouraging people to get familiar with it. There are valid issues with cameras but complete avoidance of their use isn’t a good solution either.

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Barry
  • Law Student
47 minutes ago, GreyDude said:

I have created the rule that anyone with their camera off who does not respond when called upon shall be assumed to be absent

I do hate when profs do stuff like this, or force participation in any way. 

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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer
2 hours ago, GreyDude said:

On the one hand, my union has obtained a legal opinion to the effect that we cannot require students to show their homes, etc., and that there is also a right of non-students not to appear in the video meeting if they do not wish to do so. They also have the right not to be recorded without their consent (recording classes is generally banned at my college without special permission—they are subject to copyright, which is owned by the prof). But since the video meeting is equivalent to a classroom, or so we are told, and since students do not have the right not to be seen in a classroom, the opinion concluded that they also do not have an automatic right not to appear on the screen during class as long as the other issues are dealt with—blocking backgrounds, for example. This is also true of teachers, who do not have the right not to be visible to students, but who do have the right not to show their homes or families, and who also have the right not to have their classes recorded without permission. On the other hand, I am aware of an opinion according to to which everyone in the meeting has a universal right not to show their face, but to be frank this makes little sense to me. I have also not been permitted to read that opinion, while the first one has been given to me in writing, so it's unsurprising I find the first one more convincing.

I'm not going to comment on the substantive legal issues raised because it is veering into offering a legal opinion. And it's worth noting I am neither an employment or education lawyer, nor am I a civil lawyer (though I think on those opinions the governing statute is PIPEDA or its provincial equivalent, so that matters less). But I would note that a video meeting at work is equivalent to a conference room if you think a video meeting at school is equivalent to a classroom, employees do not have the right to not be seen in a conference room, and thus employees would not have a right to turn off their camera during video meetings. 

And all of that ignores the possibility of tortious liability. 

2 hours ago, GreyDude said:

Now, as I said, nobody I know (including myself) actually mandates that cameras must be on, nor imposes penalties for keeping them off. However, with the camera off I have no evidence that there is a human being on the other end unless they speak or send a text. I make sure that students are aware of this, and of my strong preference for cameras to be on, and in that context I repeat and reinforce the expectation that they will be active participants (my classes are not mere lectures). I also have strict attendance rules with penalties for non-attendance. So since, if your camera is off, the only way you are able to demonstrate your participation in the meeting is by responding with your voice, I have created the rule that anyone with their camera off who does not respond when called upon shall be assumed to be absent, whether or not their computer is connected to the meeting (if their microphone is not working, they can send a text to indicate that they heard the question and could not answer verbally). Absent penalties are then applied.

It seems fairly clear to me that there are huge equity problems caused by cold calling on a certain subset of students. Take the dual examples of a student with anxiety that is afraid of speaking in class and a student without anxiety. Both prefer to keep their cameras off for personal reasons. Your rules don't harm the student without anxiety at all. But they do harm the student with anxiety, because he has to choose between either turning his camera on despite his personal wishes or losing marks when you cold call on him.

And it's not even that you cold call on all students equally—you are disproportionately singling out those who don't have their cameras on. Think about that from any other perspective. Would you not see equity issues arising if you said your preference was for students to wear a suit to class every day, and that if they didn't that's fine, but they'll be cold called on until they comply? 

2 hours ago, GreyDude said:

On equity, we have been told that as long as students are all ensured access to required equipment and wifi, then there is little concern for that with regard to cameras. But perhaps you have something else in mind. 

I don't think thats a particularly well thought out opinion on the part of your administration (whom I assume are the ones telling you that). I can think of many equity issues caused by having to turn cameras on. What about poor folks who are embarrassed by the state of their living accommodations, or who do not have somewhere in their house that they can sit on screen without other visible? Someone with a mentally ill parent who cannot trust that they will not enter the room in some inappropriate manner? A mother with a baby who would like to be able to breastfeed her child in private, since the daycares are shut? The young gay or trans student whose bedroom may out them? The student with IBS or some other medical condition who needs to use the washroom? 

I understand that teaching to a blank screen may be uncomfortable for you. But you're imposing a lot of burdens on your students for what seems to be your own comfort, and with all due respect, with what seems to be relatively little thought as to equity considerations that may make them want to keep their cameras off. Your opinion seems to be that there are no real reasons anyone would ever want to keep their cameras off, and that everyone who keeps their camera off is doing so for the same reasons your stepchild is. That's just not correct. 

To be honest, I think the legal issues are secondary here. There are lots of conflicting opinions out there on that. But there are clear equity issues, and I think it's worth reconsidering whether the burden you are possibly imposing on marginalized students is worthwhile, or if it is better just to let adults do what they feel is best for them and their situation. 

Edited by BlockedQuebecois
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Barry
  • Law Student
17 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

r? A mother with a baby who would like to be able to breastfeed her child in private, since the daycares are shut? The young gay or trans student whose bedroom may out them?

We’ll in fairness @GreyDudeis trying to recreate a classroom experience as best as he can. While they’re on the call they’re in class, if they have to breastfeed because daycares are closed I am sure that without question any professor would allow an exception to let this person to feed their child with cameras off. But if they had in person class and daycare was closed what would they be doing? Also there are filters you can use to hide your background, you can point your camera to a blank wall. My school even has rooms set up where you can stream the lecture from. Profs also do plenty of things that disadvantage anxious and shy students, including forcing public speaking.  I’m not saying there aren’t valid issues with camera use but in life people are going to have to do things they don’t want to do. This is where creating solutions by way of making sure students have access to tech, or allowing exceptions for extenuating circumstances seems favourable. 
 

I’ve never been on the teaching end of things but there does seem to be consensus that it’s not just a discomfort thing, it affects the quality of their ability to teach. 

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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer

The fact that accommodations are available or exceptions may be granted does not mean that a policy does not create equity problems. 

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Yogurt Baron
1 hour ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

What about poor folks who are embarrassed by the state of their living accommodations, or who do not have somewhere in their house that they can sit on screen without other visible? Someone with a mentally ill parent who cannot trust that they will not enter the room in some inappropriate manner? A mother with a baby who would like to be able to breastfeed her child in private, since the daycares are shut? The young gay or trans student whose bedroom may out them? The student with IBS or some other medical condition who needs to use the washroom? 

I can't speak to any legal anything, but I just want to amplify this. I'm currently a student (not of law), and my most recent day job was in education. I also fit into about three and a half of these six groups, plus another situation that makes it harder for me to be on camera (disability circumstances that present differently / more embarrassingly on camera than in a lecture hall). I do keep my camera on, but I'm also consistently self-conscious about potential catastrophe / being judged, and that absolutely does affect the quality of my education and my relationships with professors and classmates. And I'm privileged in a thousand ways that others aren't, including that I'm a middle-aged man---a lot of these problems, or other problems, are even likelier to present when you're a 22-year-old 1L, or to be more wounding.

As both an educator and a student, I've given presentations to conferences and classrooms where everyone kept their cameras off, and yeah, it's slightly discomfiting. I respect that. But the "it's weird looking at some black squares while I bloviate" feeling is so much less of a problem for me than the "the teacher is sizing up my house and my classmate's house and the classmate is going to get more funding because he's Our Kind Of People" feeling. It's not even comparable.

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Eatable Bran
  • Law Student

I really cannot get on board with on-camera policies. Last year, I regularly had 8-10 straight hours of classes and meetings a day on zoom. I ended up with massive screen headaches at the end of each day due, partly, to these on-camera policies. There was no opportunity to avert my eyes, and it was also just mentally exhausting to be "on" all the friggin time. Already with the first week back online I am once again experiencing awful headaches.

Where there was no on-camera policy, I could take notes by hand and simply listen to the lecture (unless of course there were slides), reducing my end-of-day headache. I should note that, if the prof asked nicely, 75% of the time, I would turn my camera on out of sympathy that it is hard to lecture to a bunch of black squares. But of course, profs with on-camera policies never extended the same sympathy to students. 

On top of it all, it just made me feel like my profs and the administration didn't understand how difficult it is to be going through 1L in a pandemic, over zoom. That, in itself, was even more isolating and frustrating. It's such a small ask to allow students to keep their cameras off if they want to.

Final Note: The profs that showed some level of empathy also tended to have a much more genuinely engaged class than the ones with inflexible, unsympathetic policies. 

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Barry
  • Law Student

Online learning is new and obviously there are going to be issues that were never considered in curriculum development or lecture style development meant to be in person. Required camera use isn’t a solution but it does raise awareness to equity issues that I think have to be solved, which can’t be done by avoiding the use of a camera, the camera is an important tool and there are countless examples of the camera increasing access to certain groups. I have social anxiety and being in person is way worse for my performance. It’s not all negative. I think if you’re a student and you can turn your camera on, you should. We typically have to look at the screen any way to see the slides, and camera on doesn’t mean eye-contact. But I don’t think any prof should force it, at least not currently.

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realpseudonym
  • Lawyer
4 hours ago, Barry said:

I do hate when profs do stuff like this, or force participation in any way. 

I despised mandatory participation. Listening to people talk in order to collect participation marks or a satisfy a prof’s demand didn’t make for interesting or valuable discussion. Good discussion was usually spontaneous, not compelled. So my favourite classes were those where the profs created the conditions for spontaneous participation, not where people talked because it was required. 

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TobyFlenderson
  • Law Student

I split this off from the wardrobe thread because it's not about wardrobes anymore, and I think this is a conversation worth having.

Personally, I would probably pay money to leave my camera off. For Jan term, my prof insists that cameras are on, and I can't wait for the class to be over. Last year, most of my classes were asynchronous which was great, and those that weren't were very camera flexible.

With cameras on all the time (whether because you have to or just feel like you have to), as someone said above, you have to be "on" all the time. My class is pretty early in the morning. Leaving my camera off would let me shower after class instead of before class, giving me more time to sleep. I use my desktop computer for remote school, to take advantage of my better keyboard and two monitors, and that's in my room. I can't get my virtual backgrounds to work properly (and they tend to break for most people when the background moves anyway), so that means that my partner has to get up and out of the room in the morning. If the camera was off, they could sleep. 

Class is early enough that I'm not usually hungry yet when I wake up, but I get hungry almost every day before the usual lecture break. Nobody else eats on camera, so I have to make the choice of being the person eating on camera, or waiting. I choose to wait, because I don't want the prof to think I'm not paying attention or being inconsiderate. Having the camera off would mean I could eat when I'd like, instead of at arbitrary times decided by the prof (and only for 5 minutes!). 

Essentially, camera on means class has to take priority over all else, while camera off offers more of a balance.

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I despised mandatory participation. Listening to people talk in order to collect participation marks or a satisfy a prof’s demand didn’t make for interesting or valuable discussion. Good discussion was usually spontaneous, not compelled. So my favourite classes were those where the profs created the conditions for spontaneous participation, not where people talked because it was required. 

I agree. Most (all?) of Western's Jan term courses this year have mandatory participation and presentations. It drives me absolutely nuts that I'm spending at least half of the class listening to someone else who is also just learning the same law teach it to me, especially when after their presentation, the prof has to go through and identify what is right, not quite right, and definitively wrong, and then I end up with two sets of notes, one from the presentation and one from the prof. 

I much prefer classes where the prof teaches me the law and assesses me by making me apply it. Not by making me try to teach it to everyone else!

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Barry
  • Law Student
7 minutes ago, TobyFlenderson said:

most of my classes were asynchronous

I definitely agree that any online lecture class should be asynchronous going forward. It’s great being able to take my time with the recording, or if I need a bit more time to do a reading before I listen I can take it. 

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Renerik
  • Law School Admit

I'm in the pro-camera camp. Do a fair bit of instruction via zoom and it's demoralizing when you've got a group of 20 with only two cameras on. Whenever I'm in a meeting, I'll have my camera on and nod along with whoever is leading things to give them a sense of feedback too.

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GreyDude
  • Applicant

Preface for those who might think otherwise: I am not a Law prof, but I do teach in a post-secondary institution.

4 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

I'm not going to comment on the substantive legal issues raised because it is veering into offering a legal opinion.

I agree. Naturally, I'm not seeking legal advice, and I'm not qualified to offer an opinion about the state of the law. Any legal views I repeated were offered by the lawyers of my professional association, after they were asked for a formal opinion on the subject, to guide us in our preparation for last year's online courses. I may, or may not, have correctly understood them. 

4 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

It seems fairly clear to me that there are huge equity problems caused by cold calling on a certain subset of students. Take the dual examples of a student with anxiety that is afraid of speaking in class and a student without anxiety. Both prefer to keep their cameras off for personal reasons. Your rules don't harm the student without anxiety at all. But they do harm the student with anxiety, because he has to choose between either turning his camera on despite his personal wishes or losing marks when you cold call on him.

And it's not even that you cold call on all students equally—you are disproportionately singling out those who don't have their cameras on. Think about that from any other perspective. Would you not see equity issues arising if you said your preference was for students to wear a suit to class every day, and that if they didn't that's fine, but they'll be cold called on until they comply? 

6 hours ago, GreyDude said:

On equity, we have been told that as long as students are all ensured access to required equipment and wifi, then there is little concern for that with regard to cameras. But perhaps you have something else in mind. 

I don't think thats a particularly well thought out opinion on the part of your administration (whom I assume are the ones telling you that). I can think of many equity issues caused by having to turn cameras on. What about poor folks who are embarrassed by the state of their living accommodations, or who do not have somewhere in their house that they can sit on screen without other visible? Someone with a mentally ill parent who cannot trust that they will not enter the room in some inappropriate manner? A mother with a baby who would like to be able to breastfeed her child in private, since the daycares are shut? The young gay or trans student whose bedroom may out them? The student with IBS or some other medical condition who needs to use the washroom? 

I understand that teaching to a blank screen may be uncomfortable for you. But you're imposing a lot of burdens on your students for what seems to be your own comfort, and with all due respect, with what seems to be relatively little thought as to equity considerations that may make them want to keep their cameras off. Your opinion seems to be that there are no real reasons anyone would ever want to keep their cameras off, and that everyone who keeps their camera off is doing so for the same reasons your stepchild is. That's just not correct. 

To be honest, I think the legal issues are secondary here. There are lots of conflicting opinions out there on that. But there are clear equity issues, and I think it's worth reconsidering whether the burden you are possibly imposing on marginalized students is worthwhile, or if it is better just to let adults do what they feel is best for them and their situation. 

I appreciate the thought you put into this. I'm going to admit to have posted somewhat in anger, because I just hate online teaching so much, and I'm going to slightly pull back on a couple of things I said in my original post. One of them is the expression "cold call," which I should not have used. In retrospect, I'm realizing that to "cold call" is generally understood as targeting a single student, without warning, with something like "person X, please explain concept Y for the class." I have never done this and never will. The only time I ask content questions in a way that might unexpectedly put pressure on a student is in the context of an oral presentation when the student was using (or should have been using) terminology or ideas that needed explaining, or when being able to use the terms or concepts correctly in the presentation was part of the mark.

Except in a context like that, no student has ever lost a mark in any class of mine, in over 2 decades of teaching, simply because they could not answer a question in class that they were not expecting. None ever will. In the courses I teach, that's just poor practice. I suspect it is poor practice in most contexts, in fact. 

in my original post and the subsequent post I made what I do to verify attendance in Zoom meetings seem like a much more severe practice than it is. I call upon students with their cameras off to confirm that they are actually there and can hear the class. I do this mid-class and without warning (they are warned at the beginning of the semester that this can happen), and only when they don't answer twice over a period of time do I actually consider them absent (after all, maybe they had gone to the toilet, etc.). However, in a class where attendance is a requirement, students are not only expected to arrive on time, but to remain present for the period. And of course, where there are 30 blank screens, the attendance rule just goes out the window. But then so does most of the pedagogy. 

I do strongly encourage students to turn their cameras on, and I do ask them to only keep them off for serious reasons. I do not ask for the reasons, but I do ask them to tell me that they have them. 

On the issue of folks who for any reason at all don't want their living environment to be visible, or the hypothetical about breast-feeding (rare but not impossible at my level), others who don't want to be (or whom we don't want to be) on camera accidentally, and so on, I thought I covered it when I said that "we cannot require students to show their homes, etc., and that there is also a right of non-students not to appear in the video meeting if they do not wish to do so. They also have the right not to be recorded without their consent," and so on. I think that all of these hypotheticals are covered by that, or at least that was my intent. One example from my own experience is the student who had just had her wisdom teeth out and didn't want others to see that her face was swollen. Why would I deny any of these?

I guess I should also quote myself again here: "Now, as I said, nobody I know (including myself) actually mandates that cameras must be on, nor imposes penalties for keeping them off."  But I will admit to strongly encouraging their use, to the extent of formally requesting that they be on and not tolerating cases (when I discover them, of course) where students use keeping them off as a way to be absent while pretending to be present. 

I'm going to call the argument about clothing standards a straw man. I am not expressing mere preference, as I had hoped to make clear. It is my considered opinion as a professional educator that the Zoom environment is pedagogically negative as a general rule, and that when cameras are off, this is exacerbated. We have been holding workshops in the sphere of education for almost two years, on ways to mitigate the damage done by the online teaching environment. Cameras on is almost universally agreed upon by my colleagues as the ideal online situation pedagogically (and none of us actually make keeping the camera on a part of the mark, as far as I know). I cannot see how clothing choice (formal or informal) in a classroom setting is analogue to that. Perhaps you can explain, though. 

I've typed enough here, and while I've been doing so lots of others have been posting. So I'll stop here. 

ok, maybe just this: 🙂 

1 hour ago, Barry said:

I definitely agree that any online lecture class should be asynchronous going forward. It’s great being able to take my time with the recording, or if I need a bit more time to do a reading before I listen I can take it. 

I agree with this and think it makes a lot of sense. If the format of the class is lecture-listen, then I don't see the point of synchronous classes online. One proviso: the prof must offer availability during which students may ask questions. The ideal way to do that is to keep the class time on the schedule and have the prof sit in Zoom waiting for students who want to interact. 

Also, @Eatable Bran made the point that it creates headaches to be in front of the camera all day. Don't I know it. That's actually one reason why my online classes tend to be shorter than in-person classes—to give the students and myself a break! Zoom is more tiring for everyone. (The other reason is that my classes are set up for discussion and debate, not lecturing. Online classes have poorer participation, and that's a nut I'm still trying to crack. One solution has turned out to be... get those cameras turned on, and people start responding to each other more creatively). 

Edited by GreyDude
I just can't stop adding stuff.
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Barry
  • Law Student

 Now we’re getting a bit off topic from camera use but now that I think about it, the times my class has had vigorous  debates or engaged conversations have been in the zoom chat as the prof speaks. I know some profs have tried to replicate this by forcing written blog type assignments but it doesn’t work. Like @realpseudonymsaid it just has to be spontaneous. 

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GreyDude
  • Applicant
45 minutes ago, Barry said:

 Now we’re getting a bit off topic from camera use but now that I think about it, the times my class has had vigorous  debates or engaged conversations have been in the zoom chat as the prof speaks. I know some profs have tried to replicate this by forcing written blog type assignments but it doesn’t work. Like @realpseudonymsaid it just has to be spontaneous. 

You can create spontaneity, though, by giving nudges. I have had the occasional online class where the chat was where the action was, and I sometimes have responded to it verbally, encouraging them to speak up with their voices because that's often (but not always) more fruitful. Sometimes, this just works, and sometimes the fact that people don't necessarily need to wait their turn in the chat can be useful and it is the thing to work with. 

(obligatory camera talk: When the cameras are on, the debate has tended to be more verbal than written, or a bit of both. I find that works better.) 

On the blog thing, I'd like to suggest that the point might not be to replicate anything. I have been using interactive written assignments for many, many years—well before the pandemic. One of the best practices in teaching is to set up situations in which students teach themselves by helping their peers with material curated by the prof. Since it is almost a truism that a majority of students will not do things that are not connected to grades, these situations have to be established in ways that force it a bit (example: a 10% assignment in which you write a blog post on a topic, and must also comment intelligently on three posts by others).

The format is often chosen with an eye to what is accessible and whether it might be interesting for the students, and sometimes (often?) profs get that wrong. But the point is that it forces the student to think about and hopefully appreciate the merits of others' points of view as well as their own and the prof's. It engages students with each other, and, perhaps surprisingly, actually does result in spontaneous conversation, though not always—in my experience, not usually—in the context of the original assignment. One place things like this will come up is in class discussions. I have found that students working on this kind of assignment tend to be more engaged overall in the class. 

An aside:

1 hour ago, GreyDude said:

Any legal views I repeated were offered by the lawyers of my professional association,

I should have said "union." My bad, but an important enough distinction that I thought I should make the change, but I missed the editing window.

Edited by GreyDude
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Turtles
  • Law Student

I really despise being on camera all day. If anything, I find it exhausting and distracting, especially when you have >5 hours of lectures per day. When I'm engaged in a lecture I have multiple windows open to take notes, go along with slides, pull up cases we're talking about, do quick google/canlii/class site searches, etc, and I'm hustling through different monitors without regard for facial expressions of the speaker or trying to nod along. If you watched me through my camera, I would look like I'm constantly looking around and confused, even if I'm in my flow -- and I might even distract others. On the other hand, if it's a class discussion I'm happy to throw on my camera to engage more personally because it's a conversation, not a lecture.

The way one of my profs coordinated this was to assign a handful of on-camera days to students. You're expected to be on-camera on those days (just 3), at risk for participation marks, but any other day is optional. And she was flexible enough that everyone knew they could adjust the days if something came up / someone has personal reasons not to. A strategy like that effectively ensures a good chunk of the class is on camera every single class, yet no individual student is expected to be on for many. And because it's only a handful of mandatory on-camera days, it's easier to make arrangements when you live with others / need to find a private spot. You can then balance out your camera time with other classes accordingly. If every class tried to work out a similar system, I would be on board. 

I think it's worth noting law students have generally demonstrated above average classroom engagement and study skills as a prerequisite for admission to law school. There is less need to be paternalistic in trying to ensure students are paying enough attention at this level compared to, say, elementary school. I think even at the undergraduate level, it's a little much to require students to always be on camera as it may disadvantage, rather than aid, some of their learning. Everyone is different and mandatory policies need to contemplate this difference.

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TobyFlenderson
  • Law Student
12 hours ago, Turtles said:

I really despise being on camera all day. If anything, I find it exhausting and distracting, especially when you have >5 hours of lectures per day. When I'm engaged in a lecture I have multiple windows open to take notes, go along with slides, pull up cases we're talking about, do quick google/canlii/class site searches, etc, and I'm hustling through different monitors without regard for facial expressions of the speaker or trying to nod along. If you watched me through my camera, I would look like I'm constantly looking around and confused, even if I'm in my flow -- and I might even distract others. On the other hand, if it's a class discussion I'm happy to throw on my camera to engage more personally because it's a conversation, not a lecture.

The way one of my profs coordinated this was to assign a handful of on-camera days to students. You're expected to be on-camera on those days (just 3), at risk for participation marks, but any other day is optional. And she was flexible enough that everyone knew they could adjust the days if something came up / someone has personal reasons not to. A strategy like that effectively ensures a good chunk of the class is on camera every single class, yet no individual student is expected to be on for many. And because it's only a handful of mandatory on-camera days, it's easier to make arrangements when you live with others / need to find a private spot. You can then balance out your camera time with other classes accordingly. If every class tried to work out a similar system, I would be on board. 

I think it's worth noting law students have generally demonstrated above average classroom engagement and study skills as a prerequisite for admission to law school. There is less need to be paternalistic in trying to ensure students are paying enough attention at this level compared to, say, elementary school. I think even at the undergraduate level, it's a little much to require students to always be on camera as it may disadvantage, rather than aid, some of their learning. Everyone is different and mandatory policies need to contemplate this difference.

I agree with a lot of this. I'm sure it looks like I've been looking at something else all week, even when I'm actually talking to the prof, but that's just a consequence of my webcam setup (the cable is SO short!) and how I like to lay out my zoom call with my notes. My notes are on my primary monitor, straight ahead, because I find them easier to read that way, but it means my zoom call is off centre so when I'm taking notes I look like I'm looking at the class and paying attention. if I'm sitting attentively just looking at the speaker and listening, though, it looks like I've totally tuned out or I'm distracted with something else.

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