A Review of Zoom Utilization in Higher Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Lesly R. Krome
Southeast Missouri State University, United States of America
Education Thinking, ISSN 2778-777X – Volume 1, Issue 1 – 2021, pp. 11–26. Date of publication: 8 May 2021.
Cite: Krome, L. R. (2021). A Review of Zoom Utilization in Higher Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Education Thinking, 1(1), 11–26. https://analytrics.org/article/a-review-of-zoom-utilization-in-higher-education-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/
Declaration of interests: The author declares no conflicts of interest.
Acknowledgements: A great thanks is given to my supportive husband, beautiful son, and to my son’s familial caretakers so that I could investigate this subject of interest.
Funding information: This literature review was not funded.
Author’s note: Lesly Krome, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling at Southeast Missouri State University. While her PhD was earned in the field of psychology, she is very proud of both her role as an educator and her work with the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy (CIMA) which works to enhance the educational experiences of ELL and ESL students. Her areas of interest in psychology include Industrial/Organizational topics (recruiting, leadership, the work-family interface, and generational and gender differences) while her interests in education include culturally responsive pedagogy and biography-driven instruction (BDI).
Copyright notice: The author of this article retains all her rights as protected by copyright laws.
Journal’s area(s) of research addressed by the article: 15-Distance Education & e/m-Learning; 31-Higher Education; 65-Technologies for Learning
The COVID-19 pandemic stunned the world in 2020 resulting in governmental lockdowns bringing a halt to traditional face-to-face classes in the field of education (Czeisler et al., 2020). Institutions of higher education scrambled to find a means to remotely instruct students and the Zoom Video Communications conferencing tool was found to be a valuable piece of technology with which to do this. Following the transition to online classrooms, a wide array of research has been published regarding the experiences of teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic through Zoom and similar conferencing software. A total of 32 peer-reviewed journal articles were identified as addressing the subject of higher education instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic using the Zoom conferencing tool. These articles were analyzed, and four main areas of investigation were identified: transitioning to the online classroom, comparison of online learning with teaching face-to-face, evaluation of online classroom experiences, and recommendations/best practice. A general theme surrounding the quality of online instruction was also recognized.
higher education; online learning; Zoom Video Communications; COVID-19
Objective and background
Contrary to what some might believe, the technology software Zoom Video Communications was known in academic realms prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Recognized as a useful online conferencing tool for academic information dissemination, a body of literature discussed the uses of Zoom in the classroom and tutorials existed recognizing how it may be utilized in the field of education (Barbosa & Barbosa, 2019; Sutterlin, 2018). Zoom was acknowledged by many as a tool that could be utilized for distance teaching to enhance online education through its interactive collaborative capabilities. However, little did we know at the time just how necessary this technology would become for the entire field of education during a worldwide pandemic that forced teachers to move from face-to-face (hereafter referred to as “F2F”) classes to an entirely online platform.
Following the initial start of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent government lockdowns (Taylor, 2021), Zoom began to be utilized across countries to educate students in all areas of their academic career, from elementary school to higher education, the latter of which is the focus of the current literature review. Since the onset of the pandemic, a large influx of research on the topic of online classrooms has occurred and many questions have been raised regarding best teaching practices for video conferencing software. The current literature review seeks to summarize and analyze the body of research investigating Zoom usage in higher education online learning that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to analysis, some background information on these topics will be provided.
The COVID-19 Global Pandemic
On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that a novel coronavirus first identified in China in December 2019 had become a global health emergency (Taylor, 2021). This virus was termed COVID-19 and was recognized to have severe respiratory symptoms which could result in death. As we shortly found out, the virus was also incredibly infectious; by March 7, 2021, over 116,166,652 individuals across the world had contracted the disease resulting in 2,582,528 deaths (WHO, 2021). As this was considered a worldwide emergency, many countries ended up in a lock-down state; the United States entered lock-down on March 13, 2020 which resulted in citizens being instructed to remain at home and not enter public domains (Jorden et al., 2020). The lock-down forced all but essential workers to remain away from the workplace, and schools had to shut down in-person classes (Czeisler et al., 2020). Because F2F classes were canceled, many universities had to find new ways to instruct students remotely and Zoom became a critical tool in this effort.
Zoom Video Communications Conferencing Tool
Zoom is an internet-based data storage platform that allows for synchronous video and voice conferencing, content sharing, and discussion through technological devices like mobile phones and computers/tablets (Sutterlin, 2018). Zoom allows for live meetings (essentially creating an “online classroom”) and can hold up to 100 participants at a time (Sutterlin, 2018). Attendees from any location can log into Zoom with a specific code that specifies the meeting room; the only thing needed is a digital device to access the software and a Zoom account. Meetings can be recorded for later viewing as well (Sutterlin, 2018). With all these features (and many more), it is little surprise that Zoom has quickly become a staple in online learning and professionals in the field of education are drawn to this technology. Zoom as a company caters its product to educators. Not only does Zoom hire professionals with years of experience in educational technology, but employees also cycle through feedback from students and teachers regarding their usage of the product and take those comments (gleaned from professional solicitation and social media) to inform future decision-making and design (Koenig, 2020). Additional education-specific applications and special features have been designed by Zoom to further enhance Zoom’s usefulness (and subsequent popularity) to those in the field of instruction (Koenig, 2020).
Evidence to the massive approval of the Zoom software by the public can be seen in the 458% increase in customer use during the second quarter of 2020, following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (Lambert, 2020). Zoom is argued to be the preferred video conferencing software by consumers due to its incredibly fast speed (150 milliseconds is the maximum lag time Zoom calls operate by) which allows for conversations to maintain a natural progression and flow in a manner similar to how they would in-person (Pierce, 2020). Zoom has customers willing to make additional/return purchases and willing to recommend the product to family and friends; these two criteria make up the customer loyalty metric called the Net Promoter Score or NPS (Customer Guru, 2021). Zoom is considered to have an “excellent” NPS (+62), which can range from -100 (lowest) to +100 (highest). Additionally, Zoom’s NPS is well above the industry average of +58, indicating superior preference by consumers, many of whom are university/college administrators and faculty using Zoom to facilitate online learning.
Online Learning in Higher Education
Online learning takes many forms in higher education. Learning Management Systems (LMS) is a primary feature of higher education and plays an especially important role in online learning. An LMS is a “a web-based platform designed for management, documentation, monitoring, reporting and delivery of courses” (Ghilay, 2017, p. 5). Moodle and Canvas are two examples of an LMS, though many others exist (Ghilay, 2017). Essentially, the LMS creates a website for the academic course which allows for content to be uploaded, including text, video, audio, pictures, hyperlinks, etc. Communication systems also exist within the LMS which allows for faculty and students to send and receive messages. LMSs allow for online forums. Homework assignments, exams, quizzes, and many other evaluative criteria can be assessed through the LMS, and students and faculty can monitor grades and class performance (Ghilay, 2017).
While LMS are central to online learning, there are many other aspects to this in-depth process. As previously mentioned, Zoom allows for synchronous delivery of content; in higher education entire classes can be taught through Zoom as it allows for lecturing by the faculty to the listening student audience. There are many other behaviors that faculty can engage in that facilitate online learning. One example is the online flipped classroom in which students complete activities/assignments online pertaining to the course topic and then enter the online class (through Zoom or some other platform) to discuss this information further and engage in the content (Hew et al., 2020). Technology-based active learning tools such as a Student Response System (SRS) or Audience Response Systems (ARS) can be utilized in online education (Kenwright, 2009). The SRS (colloquially known by the term “clickers”) allows for students to respond to prompts from the faculty using a technological device and thus they must actively engage in the class for their response to be noted.
Students benefit greatly from an effective LMS, SRS, and Zoom conferencing, regardless of whether they intended to attend class online or whether they were forced to attend class online due to the global pandemic (Ghilay, 2017). What is still needed for educators is clear instruction on the best teaching practices for the use of some of these tools in an online course, and a better understanding of the experiences of using Zoom to teach in an academic setting. This is necessary so educators can be better suited for the task of instructing during a pandemic and beyond the pandemic as well (Zoom is a tool that can be useful in education regardless of the circumstances). To best capitalize on it as a resource, educators must be informed on how Zoom has been utilized and how it may continue to be utilized both during and after the pandemic. The current literature review will focus on the use of Zoom in an online higher education setting during the COVID-19 pandemic and will attempt to draw out general themes from the research as well as identify suggested recommendations by scholars.
The ProQuest Education Database was accessed and the keywords “Zoom software” and “best practices” were entered to begin searching for content specific to the goals of the current literature review, a primary purpose being to determine best teaching practices for the use of Zoom in higher education. A list of 116 peer-reviewed full-text articles were pulled up for the years “2020” to current (this date was selected as it denoted the beginning of the pandemic in the United States). The keyword “teaching” was incorporated into the search which reduced the list of resources down to 98 documents. Articles highlighting teaching during the “COVID-19” pandemic were investigated further, which brought the list of available articles down to 51. One of the documents retrieved from the filtered search was a “letter from the editor” and not a peer-reviewed published article so it was not included in analysis. After closer review of the 50 remaining articles, it was discovered that despite the search filters, several articles (18) addressed topics other than teaching during the pandemic (e.g., female leadership) or higher education (e.g., primary or secondary school), or technology other than Zoom (e.g., Whatsapp software). These articles were not included in the current review. This search process was repeated in the PsycInfo database and the ERIC database. The PsycInfo database revealed only one search result which was dissertation and was not included in analysis. The ERIC database yielded no results. For the current literature review, 32 articles on the topic of Zoom usage in higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic were examined, all from the ProQuest Education Database network.
Several themes emerged after reviewing the body of literature surrounding Zoom usage in higher education during the Covid-19 pandemic. First, a large amount of research discussed the transition to using Zoom and other conferencing software after the onset of the pandemic and this research discussed both the process of transitioning as well as important aspects of the transition (specifically, technology literacy for both faculty and students). Second, a portion of the research addressed the comparison of traditional F2F classes to the online conferencing format. This progressed into the third theme, which dealt primarily with the evaluation of online learning, with an emphasis on effectiveness and satisfaction for both faculty and students. Finally, recommendations and best practices for the use of Zoom and online classrooms in general in higher education was identified in some of the literature. To understand better exactly what the research described, the transition to online classrooms, comparison of online classrooms to F2F classrooms, evaluations of online learning, and recommendations and best practices for online classrooms need to be explained in detail.
Transitioning to Online Classrooms
The primary finding from research addressing the transition to using Zoom dealt with the issue of technology literacy. Facing a sudden transition from traditional F2F classes to teaching through the Zoom conferencing tool, faculty and students alike needed to be informed about how the software worked and the best way to use it. One non-empirical article, identified as highlighting technology literacy, provided nothing other than information about video communications (including Zoom) and online subscriptions (Marshall & Ward, 2020). However, most of the research in this area specifically addressed how faculty and students were informed about how to utilize Zoom.
In Italy, the EduHack online course was provided to university instructors in the early months of 2020 to inform them of options when it came to digital learning techniques, teaching applications, Zoom, and online instruction (Barpi et al., 2021). Another study that occurred in Italy took place in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Trento (Busto et al., 2021). The case study provided information on how the department worked to preserve the quality of F2F instruction while disseminating information in an online environment, specifically using audio and video.
A chemical engineering laboratory at the University of Extremadura in Spain published an article detailing their experience with transitioning to online learning (Nogales-Delgado et al., 2020). Their university operated in a virtual capacity and provided an online library to help faculty and students transition to an online environment. Tutorials were created to aid in telework and the use of remote conferencing options was emphasized.
Researchers in Brazil surveyed 7,203 students to collect information about their experiences in online learning (Souza et al., 2020). Analyses revealed that student demotivation was linked to both the number of reported cases of COVID-19 as well as their own access to the technology that allowed them to participate in online classes. Students’ technology literacy was also a factor influencing their motivation in continuing online learning. The authors conclude that students need support (psychological, social, and resource-based) to persist in online education during the pandemic.
Researchers in China noted a lack of preparation time for transitioning to online learning, teacher/student isolation, and a need for effective pedagogical approaches, and suggested open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) as an option for instructors in overcoming these obstacles to teaching effectively during the pandemic (Ronghuai et al., 2020). OER refer to free materials in varying mediums used for teaching, learning, and research that are open to the public or have been released under copyright. OEP is simply referring to the use of OERs, utilization of technology, self-guided learning, collaboration, and open assessment in teaching. As with experiential learning, community collaborations are encouraged and supported. The researchers discussed new curriculum, initiatives, and virtual apprenticeships for ease of instruction during the pandemic.
The usage of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies was assessed in South Africa and researchers investigated the role that the pandemic had on forcing a reliance on those tools (Mhlanga & Moloi, 2020). 4IR refers to the move to “cyber-physical systems” and the technological advances that accompany this shift in industry and society as a whole (Mhlanga & Moloi, 2020, p. 2). 4IR also addresses the increasingly indistinct border between the “physical, digital, and biological worlds” (Mhlanga & Moloi, 2020, p. 2). The COVID-19 pandemic was found to have forced the education field in South Africa into using the 4IR technologies to facilitate online learning, which was viewed as a positive outcome that may allow for greater access to education for the general populace.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne had to find internship placements for students in the Department of Rural Health during the pandemic and ultimately used online work-integrated learning (WIL) for their students (Salter et al., 2020). The Division of Experience-based Learning and Career Education at the University of Cincinnati also discussed the role of WIL in student practicum during the pandemic (Alanson et al., 2020). WIL is similar to experiential learning in that students are instructed by trained educators in a student-centered and holistic manner cognizant of workplace demands and the applied learning experiences students need to meet those demands when they enter the workforce. Both papers discussed the experiences students had with their WIL placements and the successes and areas for improvement for their programs.
At Harvard University, The Language Center published an article on the work that they did to ease the transition from F2F learning to online (Ross & DiSalvo, 2020). The Center reported a variety of communication strategies which included highlighting the difference between asynchronous instruction and live remote instruction, as well as providing general information, resources, and tutorials. The Center also emphasized support mechanisms for faculty and students such as a weekly summary of COVID-19 updates and adjusted the center’s operational policies. The article ended with a list of recommendations, which will be discussed in a later section of this review.
At the University of Oklahoma’s College of Pharmacy, administrative reactions to the pandemic were detailed and various responsive activities were recorded (Draugalis et al., 2020). A “Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP)” was activated which helped ease the transition to an online environment (Draugalis et al., 2020, p. 655). The authors also addressed the negative financial ramifications of the pandemic and its implications.
A more global article discussed the role of major educational publishers in enlightening faculty on the options available to them during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to online learning (Krsmanovic, 2020). The publishers’ main websites contained a highlighted section committed to providing faculty information on “(1) resources for supporting students, (2) resources for remote teaching, and (3) resources for remote work” (Krsmanovic, 2020, p. 54). Though not all publisher websites reviewed by the authors had such resources listed, a large proportion of educational publication websites were found to engage in this practice.
Finally, three articles addressed the state of emergency that the pandemic caused higher education to fall into. Pérez et al. (2020) discussed Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) as “a temporary shift from the F2F or hybrid mode of instruction to completely digital education” (p. 396). The authors also evaluated two models of an online flipped classroom, the Chinese and the Slovenian models. Alternatively, Hutchison (2021) highlighted lessons from the emergency shift to online teaching: 1) taking stock of advancements in technology and reconsidering pedagogy as it relates to these tools and 2) being mindful of the inequalities that exist in education and how moving to online environment can exacerbate these issues. A final study sampled a small number (65) of university lecturers in Portugal who were engaged in emergency online teaching (Martinho et al., 2021). These instructors possessed positive affect towards online teaching, the impact of online learning on students, and the impact online teaching had on their careers and institutes.
Comparison of Online Classrooms to F2F
A second theme from the literature review revealed that some of the articles on the current subject revolved around comparing the new video conferencing format to traditional F2F classes. Initially this train of thought may seem counter-intuitive given that F2F classes had to be eliminated due to the pandemic. However, the purposes of the comparison varied, from drawing parallels, assessing preferences, comparing effectiveness, and contemplating the paradigm change.
One such study attempted to draw from F2F learning and see how concepts and structures from traditional classrooms could be integrated or substituted into online classrooms and how this impacted instructor satisfaction (Mouchantaf, 2020). The researcher in Lebanon emailed 300 instructors from five different local universities and surveyed them regarding their experiences with online teaching following the start of the pandemic and mandatory online instruction. One critical outcome of these surveys was that “a positive correlation was found between the use of video applications in place of [traditional] face-to-face instruction (e.g., Zoom or Skype) and the teacher’s comfort in using new resources r =.28, p =.04” (Mouchantaf, 2020, p. 1262). In this study, Zoom and other conferencing software were found to facilitate online teaching in place of the F2F classroom, an effect that was augmented based on the instructors’ level of comfort with technology.
Another study, this one based in Portugal, looked at the student rather than instructor perspective of how online classrooms compared to F2F classrooms (Gonçalves et al., 2020). A total of 173 university students were surveyed and while the students assessed many different topics, they were fairly split on their perspective of the positive outcomes of online instruction replacing F2F instruction (51.4% affirmed positive outcomes while 48.6% dissented). Furthermore, students reported a need for F2F instruction regardless of the pandemic.
One research team funded by the Educational Department of Liaoning Province (China) utilized data collected in an F2F class in 2019 and compared it to data collected from an online class in 2020 to assess cooperative learning of students in both mediums (Yu & Yuizono, 2021). Cooperative learning was operationalized as “a teaching technique that organizes students into small groups for learning activities, with rewards or recognition being provided based on their overall group performance in achieving educational goals” (Yu & Yuizono, 2021, p. 1). Results of the analyses indicated that creative thinking was enhanced by cooperative learning for both F2F students and online students, but knowledge construction was found to be somewhat higher for the F2F group. From a social standpoint, the researchers found that the online interpersonal interactions were closer and more productive than in the F2F group, which demonstrated social loafing among some members.
The final conceptual paper on the changes from F2F classrooms to virtual ones discussed the implications that COVID-19 would have on higher education and the changing demands of the current era (Seke, 2020). The author highlights the need for old practices to advance and evolve to keep up with current demands (i.e., online learning replacing F2F learning during the pandemic). The author referenced the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and discussed the second educational revolution, which was marked by massive technology gains that altered the way instruction could be provided. The author concludes that “business as usual” will not resume and that the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent changes to the field of education may spark a new educational revolution.
Evaluation of Online Learning
One of the most robust themes that emerged from the literature review was centered around evaluation of online learning during the pandemic. A wide list of research addressed this critically important topic in two primary ways: through evaluation of effectiveness of online instruction and reported satisfaction with online learning.
Effectiveness of online classrooms
A study by Gupta et al. (2020) discussed appropriate assessment frameworks based on Bloom’s taxonomy, Miller’s pyramid, and a variety of other pedagogical theories. The authors then questioned how assessment should look in an online setting. The purpose of this paper was to better understand how assessment could be translated into an asynchronous learning environment in the health education field. The authors recommended “open-ended short answer questions, problem-based questions, oral exams, and recorded objective structured clinical exams” as methods for assessment in online environments (Gupta et al., 2020, p. 1). The authors also emphasized the importance of fairness and integrity in online assessment using various technological devices.
Three universities under the scope of the Spanish Ministry of Education implemented evaluation of student outcomes following the transition to online learning after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (García-Alberti et al., 2021). Student responses to the survey indicated that students expressed low motivation for online learning if home environment is not suitable for learning, some concern with comprehension of the material taught in the absence of classroom interaction, general uncertainty regarding their modes of assessment, and difficulty performing online. Faculty also reflected on their experiences with online teaching and indicated that there was an initial reluctance to adopt online practices, the workload for preparing online courses was immense, faculty felt unprepared and technologically illiterate in online teaching, and there were some concerns regarding the usefulness of online teaching.
A study conducted in the UK investigated the effects of the pandemic-mandated switch to remote learning and how this impacted 444 medical students’ standardized testing and clinical examinations and their subsequent placements (Choi et al., 2020). Students reported feeling underprepared for their written examinations and 38.4% had had their objective structured clinical examinations canceled due to the pandemic. The authors conclude that the interruptions to scheduled student assistantships had a more profound effect on students’ felt confidence and reported preparedness rather than the shift to online learning itself.
One hundred and four first- and second-year medical students at the University of California, San Diego were surveyed immediately after the start of the pandemic in March 2020 (Shahrvini et al., 2021). General findings were not positive: students felt that the switch to remote classrooms had hurt the quality of the instruction they received as well as their ability to engage. While students enjoyed the self-paced nature of online learning, 56.7% of the second-year students felt unprepared for their medical licensing examinations and 43.3% felt unprepared for clinical practice. Along with the lack of applied practical experience, students also highlighted the problem of “digital fatigue” from excessive time spent online.
Satisfaction with online classrooms
On the topic of assessing satisfaction (rather than effectiveness) of online teaching and learning experiences in students and faculty, a survey of 3,037 students and 231 faculty from 15 Moroccan universities led to some general findings regarding gratification with the shift to an online environment (Firdoussi et al., 2020). Students reported overall dissatisfaction with their online instruction, which can be partially attributed to technological challenges. Students also expressed a desire for F2F instruction, at least partially where possible. In faculty, only 27.7% reported having previously provided an online course and it was found that older instructors indicated having difficulty with the technology requirements resulting in their struggles with adopting online teaching. Therefore, an obvious recommendation is to better educate instructors in technology literacy and to provide resources to facilitate their online teaching.
Another example of research examining student satisfaction with online conferencing came from the pediatric department at King Abdulaziz University where 162 medical students evaluated their learning experiences with Zoom and other technologies (Fatani, 2020). The majority of students (82%) reported high satisfaction with video conferencing when utilized for case-based discussions in their course.
Croatian health-science students enrolled in nine different institutions of higher education responded to satisfaction surveys regarding their experience with online learning during the pandemic (Puljak et al., 2020). A sample of 2,520 students reported general satisfaction with online learning (average rating was 3.7 out of 5) and 64.4% reported equal or higher motivation to attend online classes. About 55.7% reported interest in future blended classrooms (online and F2F).
In Jordan, 538 medical students who participated in online classrooms during the pandemic were surveyed (Al-Balas et al., 2020). A very low satisfaction rate of 26.8% was reported that was significantly higher for students who had previously been instructed in online formats. Satisfaction was also higher when instructors engaged with students online and provided sufficient time for students to complete their assignments. A primary issue identified with students’ online experiences was poor internet connectivity.
A final paper briefly addressed the issue of online teaching during the pandemic, but it was a personal essay by a first-year instructor included in an anthology detailing educator experiences in higher education during the pandemic (Rodriguez et al., 2021). The author discusses the whirlwind of activity involved in switching F2F classes to online classrooms at the onset of the pandemic as well as looking into online assessment options and searching for “best practices” for online instruction. This latter subject leads us to the final identified theme of the current literature review.
Recommendations / Best Practice
A primary motivation for this literature review was to identify best practices for higher education instruction in Zoom classrooms. While the nature of the pandemic may eventually allow for F2F classes to resume “back to normal,” online classrooms aided by Zoom and other conferencing technology may linger. It then becomes critical to highlight how to best utilize this technology to enhance the education of students in online education now and into the future.
Several studies specifically addressed the issue of best practice and provided recommendations to facilitate online learning. Researchers at the Harvard Language Center (Ross & DiSalvo, 2020), which were previously mentioned regarding their evaluation of transitioning to remote instruction, offered the following advice:
Researchers in the nursing field identified several other important practical considerations (Embree & Little, 2020):
Another article discussing both the practical aspects of online learning as well as useful practices was based on observations of an undergraduate distance learning lab (Levin & Grewe, 2020). The first piece of advice consisted of identifying the best uses of the technology available. The authors caution against simply trying to transfer the lab experience into an online platform and instead suggest transforming the lab into a new experience, utilizing the best and most appropriate technology tools. There was also a subsection highlighting sensitivity to others’ time and availability when scheduling meetings. The authors move on to discuss providing suitable expectations for all members in the online meetings regarding appropriate behaviors and standards for conduct, which are important considerations for any online environment.
Smith (2020) addressed the subject of culturally responsive pedagogy during the pandemic and highlighted the importance of educators to remain vigilant in their quest to provide the best possible education to their students while being culturally sensitive throughout virtual instruction. The author highlighted several key themes that can serve as detriments to students: 1) lack of knowledge about [students] and what their experiences are, 2) a failure to show concern and compassion for students experiencing a worldwide pandemic and in general, and 3) alienating People of Color (POC). The author then highlighted important opportunities to enhance students’ online classroom experience which are: 1) learn about and value [students] on a personal level, 2) be committed to academic success, and 3) be critical of processes that alienate [students].
Finally, Hew et al. (2020), who were previously mentioned in this review, provided general recommendations for online flipped classrooms that utilize video conferencing. The authors suggested the following which can generalize to any online classroom:
The current literature review was not written to promote Zoom video conferencing (despite perhaps appearing that way), but rather was an attempt to better understand this specific tool and how it has been used by a vast number of educators during the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the world, teachers are still logging into Zoom calls to instruct their students; this literature review gathered as much up-to-date research as possible on the specific technology instructors are using to provide better insight into their virtual classrooms. While the reason entirely online teaching was necessitated in 2020 was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the information obtained from this literature review is beneficial even after the pandemic ends.
This literature review can be utilized to better inform educators who use Zoom (whether because of personal preference or because their institutions use it) on options and opportunities for their classrooms. The most obvious application of the literature review comes from the Recommendations/Best Practices section, which highlights effective approaches to using video conferencing. However, educators can review all the information synthesized within this literature review and consider the broader application of Zoom throughout the world to inform their pedagogy. If educators need to know more about technological literacy, effective online protocols, program evaluation (pertaining to both satisfaction and effectiveness), or additional online resources (e.g., OERs), all of that information and more has been presented here.
The literature review suggests interest in the transition to online classrooms following the start of the pandemic, a comparison of traditional F2F classrooms with the new virtual classrooms, careful consideration of evaluation of online learning/teaching experiences, and recommendations for best practices in online classrooms. The general conclusion that is supported by all identified areas is that the experiences students and faculty had in pandemic-mandated online classrooms are important and researchers want to know more about how to adjust to and use video conferencing, how to evaluate online classroom success, and how best to engage in an online format. The era of virtual classrooms is likely to exist well into the future (Ghilay, 2017). Zoom and other video conferencing tools can become a permanent fixture of online education, and indeed, some experts believe that effect to be an inevitability (Seke, 2020). Subsequently, educators need to remain informed about the research surrounding online classrooms and stay current in technological advances that can facilitate online learning and student success.
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