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Cameras On or Off? It Depends! What We’ve Learned from Students about Teaching and Learning on Zoom

Like it or not, video conferencing platforms have become an integral tool for synchronous online teaching and learning. However, when the use of these tools increased due to emergency remote teaching (Hodges et al., 2020), debates ensued regarding whether to require students to be on camera during remote, hybrid, HyFlex, and online classes.

While camera policies for synchronous online learning continue to be a disputed topic, our goal for this article is not to tell you whether you should require students to be on camera or not, but rather to provide you with research-based insights that can help inform your camera policy and course design decisions.

In spring and fall 2021, we collected post-course survey data from students (n = 70) in two education courses to learn about their experiences with being on or off camera during synchronous online learning in Zoom. In both of these courses, camera use was completely optional, although the instructor encouraged it in breakout rooms. Participants in the study were a mix of undergraduates (57%), graduates (36%), and non-degree students (7%). 

Here are 10 things we learned from the study:

Originally posted at Faculty Focus