One of the most awkward Zoom moments is probably right before the beginning of a class, right? Normally, a lecture hall is filled with sounds – a bag dropped on a table, casual conversations, laughs, footsteps, a door opening. Yet online, the only sound is the “Zoom-pling” when a new person enters the room (yeah… I have not yet figured out how to turn that off). The host is usually there, and one by one the participants start entering. All muted. All silent. Everybody just blankly staring at each other, or another computer page or screen; an army of Zoombies.
Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels slightly uncomfortable during those minutes.
But on the 12th of April, at the start of my introductory lecture for the IBCoM-1 course Communication Technologies and their Impacts, something happened. While I’m looking at the five tabs filling up with small videos, showing the faces of my new students, one screen catches my eye. A student is holding a guitar – it’s not fully visible, but I see the top of it on her screen.
“Hey, I see that you have a guitar… Can you maybe play some waiting music?”. Ok, that was quite an out-of-the-blue question, and I might have put her on the spot (sorry for that), but after a few moments, she picks up her guitar, unmutes and starts playing the chords of Wonderwall by Oasis (kudos @Deniz).
Suddenly I see faces on the screen light up, students start clapping, smiling, holding up lighters… we have a little moment there – a sense of community. It can be that simple. No more awkwardness. Creativity. By the way, I am quite sure that this mini concert is the main thing that students will remember from that lecture, but so be it.
Now we’re almost halfway the term, and the lecturer’s team of CTI has witnessed the creative spirit of the IBCoM 1st years many times; from semi-professional academic posters, to storyboards to incredible talk shows with convincing guests in full costumes, CTI Today logos and jingles, and personalized poems. We are impressed. It makes our weekly meetings on Zoom something to remember, and our work as lecturers so much more interesting and engaging. Let’s make this an unforgettable and creative fourth term, with no more awkward silences at the beginning of each meeting but an open stage for all IBCoM talents.
Who volunteers for a performance at the start of my lecture on the 31st of May? Drop me an e-mail!
You’re gonna be the one that saves me
And after all
You’re my wonderwall
Author: Dr. Mijke Slot
Editor: Gwendolyne Cheung
Illustrator: Roos de Waard