I have been teaching with Zoom now for over eight
weeks. It wtorks rather well, I can mostly focus on teaching and only have
to spend some additional thought on (failing) technology. But there are
few things that I, as a teacher, would like to have (or have back). So I
am collecting these things for Zoom, or anyone who is trying to build a
better Zoom. I have now rearranged it so the missing stuff is at the top.
- New top pet peeve: An invitation list!
I like having all the meetings I set up on my meetings page, but there
are so many others I need to keep track of! Rooms set up for meetings
and exams, rooms set up for seminars at my university and at other
universities (I am attending two lecture series at other institutions
this semester, as it is so easy for me to zoom in and participate), my
church zoom, my Doppelkopf zoom, the party next week zoom....
Yes, I can have them added to my Google Calendar page. Then the calendar
is a mess with all the unneeded stuff. I just need the link, thanks. And
I would like to make notes for myself about the sessions, in particular
naming them myself (which might be different from what they are named by
list: I need to know who showed up for lab! Even if there are
only 20 people, because they choose "interesting" names at times, I
need a list of everyone who logged in, preferably with a time stamp
for entering and leaving. It costs me extra time to take attendance, I
usually put people out into their breakout rooms for group work, but
some wander off to Discord (which is fine for me, but then I don't
remember who all was there). Preferably the list is sorted
alphabetically. The problem is that as I try to "walk the grid" and
take down names, the order of the tiles is shifting as people come in,
leave, or say something (which is normally a good thing, but NOT when
I am trying to take attendance). I'm happy for it to be turn
on-and-offable and to inform the participants that a list is being
kept. I know, privacy and all, but when attendance to the labs is
mandatory, I need it.
the window arrangement: It angers me that I just get everything
set up right (tiling with all the faces, detached chat window,
breakout rooms, presentation material) all where I can see it and then
I click on "share screen" and everything scrambles. I want the windows
to stay where they are on the screens I put them in when I select a
window to present! I usually have the tile of faces and the chat on my
second screen behind my laptop (so that I can maybe see if questions
notice: Especially at the beginning of the semester I needed a
board or even just the title bar of the window to contain a text
saying which room this is, for example: "IMI Introduction to
Programming, Tuesday session" so that students know that they are in
the right room. This would also be good for office hours when I just
stare at the screen, then decide to go for coffee. Of course someone
enters right then, so a "be right back" notice that I could "hang out"
in the room would be great.
arrangement: Students find it very confusing that the options
are all over the place. I personally love that they are exactly where
I would look for them, but I have been teaching via video for decades.
They suggested some sort of on-boarding learning unit to show people
were stuff is. I see when reading the Downdetector
for Zoom that many people have issues that would be simple to
solve if they could find the options. And the options on an iPad are
soooo different from on my Mac, some even seem to be missing. Why?
groups: Make use of your faithful user base! We are often glad
to share how we solved problems, so don't just have your personal
solutions to problems, but have a forums area where people can ask
questions (even free account holders) and others can answer. This
helps you get people willing to ante up for a Pro account if they find
rooms: I need to be able to message just one room and not bother
the rest. I also need more text that I can send to all! There is a big
box that opens, but it only gives me a few lines, I often have to
revise what I want to say to make it short enough to fit. When I
return from a breakout room to the main room, I am treated as a normal
participant and muted. I forget to open the mike when I go into the
next room. As a host my mike should always be open, except when I mute
breakout rooms: Students have a nasty habit of showing up late
for class, even if there is no good reason like "the train was late"
online. I need to be able to add another breakout room while the
others are working. Seems this should be trivial to do, but I can't
find any way to do this.
the closing of breakout rooms: By mistake I wanted to send a
message to all rooms but my mouse lagged and I hit the close rooms
instead! I need to be able to cancel the closing of the breakout
rooms, AND to change the number of seconds I am giving them to leave
so that we can quickly get back to work. Thanks for remembering who
was in which breakout room with whom, though. That would have been
quite a disaster!
all: Gah, this used to work! I understand that it is a bit of a
privacy issue, if there is a dog barking or a child screaming in the
background some people may not want to be unmuted. Could we compromise
on me clicking "unmute all" and everyone getting a window requesting
that they unmute themselves? One of the teaching patterns I use is: I
talk a bit, show some slides, then I ask a question. In class they
can't avoid my laser eyes, and I can call on someone (particularly
someone who is playing with his or her phone), or people can raise
their hands and I call on them. The hand-raising thingy doesn't work
well, because I don't see it (more on that later), but in the first
few weeks I would unmute everyone, then ask the question, and I would
more likely than not get some contributions. I also use Zoom for
church services, we ask everyone to mute themselves for singing (as
the delay causes a cacophony) but to unmute themselves for prayer. I
need the quick mute and unmute options for this.
Update: They fixed this! Students can now give a teacher
permission to unmute them.
raising: Strangely, there is no hand-raising thingy. It would
not be enough just to add this to the thumbs up or hand clapping. When
I am teaching I just won't see it, just as I don't see the chat. I
finally learned to detach the chat and put it on my second screen
behind my laptop. I still don't see it when people write. So I need to
be able to quickly turn on (and off!) something that dings at me when
a hand is raised or something is written in the chat window.
Update: Someone is listening, this has been fixed and it
works splendidly! People who raised hands are moved to the top left,
in the order in which they raised their "hand".
room: I would like to be able to configure the text people are
shown in the waiting room. Maybe this already exists, but I haven't
Update: Found it.
Zoom seems optimized for human voice and speech patterns, so when a
live piano is being played (not some video on the Internet) the sound
is tinny and comes and goes. I wish I could designate one person (or
more!) as a musician and have their audio optimized for that.
Update: There is now an option to turn on the original
in Breakout rooms: Okay, this is complicated. We often have
stations in a class, and the students have to visit all the stations.
But they don't all visit the same station at the same time. I need to
be able to (one-click would be lovely) move all of the people from
room 1 to room 2, shoving the people from room 2 to room 3, ... and
the room n people to room 1. There needs to be one or more "Room
hosts" who stay put in the room, for example, because they are sharing
a Miro board or an experiment or they
are presenting something. The original room set-up would consist of
the room hosts or monitors being defined, and then the rest sent
randomly but evenly to all of the stations.
This now works, people can be permitted to choose their own room.
a better random function: I love to be able to mix and match the
groups working together, but the "random" function isn't random. In a
group of 18 students I have had one pair assigned 4 times, another 3
times, and many, many more 2 times. I would like for everyone to work
with as many different others as possible. If I have to do this by
hand, I need a way to easily record who has already been paired with
Update: Or rather, a workaround: Re-create the random
breakout rooms as often as the current week of the course (twice for
week 2, three times for week 3, etc.). This gives a passable
There is surely more to come!