Lights, Action, No Cameras??

Lights, Action, No Cameras??

Mandy Yang, Writer

On a scale from one to ten, ten being veryand one being not very, how comfortable are you with turning on your camera during your online class? I, for one, haven’t pressed the “turn on camera” button ever since school has started and it’s rare to find a student camera on within my classes. This led me to wonder, how many other students don’t turn on their cameras, and how do teachers feel about this? I’ve fortunately been able to ask a few students and teachers about their viewpoint on this matter. Do you agree with them? 

When asking Mr. Vang, a 10th grade chemistry teacher here at Edison how many students, without asking to, turn on their cameras during class, he said that none of his students have done so, so far. “I don’t micromanage my students. Although I would like them to video chat, I understand that not everyone is comfortable, and a learning environment is only good if everyone feels comfortable and safe.” Comfortability seems to be a big factor in not only Vang’s class, but also Mr. Yang’s. 

Mr. Yang is the Hmong teacher for students who attend Edison High, Computechand Gaston Middle School. Mr. Yang sympathizes with many other educators who do feel as though they need to see their students for attendance in class. “I mean how would we know…if students are actually paying attention…” Nevertheless, Mr. Yang also states, “…we have to consider students have different living arrangements that they may find uncomfortable in showing.” Yang then elaborates on his opinion “it depends.” He says students shouldn’t turn on their cameras to be kept in checkbut rather for purposes such as “displaying subjects related to the lesson like flash cards…” 

Apart from teachers at Edison, we have Mrs. Cha who teaches 7th and 8th grade at Wawona Middle School. Mrs. Cha says that she has around 5 students each class period who turn on their cameras despite her not demanding students to not turn on cameras. “I do not enforce students to turn on their camera…every socio-economic class is different…some students may be embarrassed to show their home life. Second, some students are camera shy and do not like to look at the camera.” 

In agreement with all Vang, Yang, and Cha, Marie Moua, a freshman at San Diego State University claims that she is uncomfortable with turning on her camera as well. Her professors do necessitate turning on cameras during their online meetings and Moua mentions that “…it drains my battery quickly and makes my internet crash a lot.” On the other hand, how do students who turn on their cameras feel about it? Let’s take a look at these next two students who do have their cameras on during class. 

Ewonie Thao is a junior who goes to Sunnyside High School. Even though her teachers don’t enforce cameras to be on during class, she is very comfortable with turning on her cameras. “…during summer I had a tech class for two weeks and we had to turn on our cameras every class. I was very nervous at first but it isn’t as bad because your focus turns more into the subject rather than how you look.” 

At Monache High School, Yuveah Cha is a sophomore and agrees with Thao as well. Cha further explains that cameras being on is a part of participation. “I’m 100% comfortable because it won’t kill me, but if we had the option to turn them off, I would take the advantage. 

All the teachers interviewed have found ways to make sure their students are participating in class, regardless of their cameras on or offAfter all, Yang says, “…they can have their cameras on…but their focus may be on a different website.” Sites such as Nearpodflip gridand breakout groups are ways these teachers keep their students mind on the lesson. Cha states that “Building that trust…” and “stop worrying about seeing them as a whole class…” says Vang are the best solutions to get their students comfortable enough to turn on their cameras.  

Now I ask you, what do you think?