The big concern professors have about Zoom (or any web conference platform) is: Should we require students to turn on their webcam?
Or Why do so many students not want to show their faces? I addressed this in a previous post, Part 1.
Part of the reason is that students—and people in general—are anxious about the way they look. When the webcam is on, they’re looking at themselves. A lot apparently. (Admit it, you do the same!)
Maybe we’re all a bit vain, narcissistic, or self-conscious, but it’s actually natural. With all that’s going on around us during a synchronous class session—the lecturing, the conversational delays, the tech glitches, and the chats, we gravitate to looking at ourselves online.
In a video chat, you can watch yourself vocalizing and reacting to what people say. In real life, we can’t—we don’t. But online, we start to think more about how others see us. In fact, fixating on oneself is one way we cope with the stimulus overload of video chatting.
Apparently, even staring at a mirror under low lighting for one minute is enough to make us feel self-conscious, according to one study.
So imagine what 45 minutes listening to a lecture—and looking at yourself—will do to your self-confidence!
Here’s one trick that might help students feel less anxious about showing their faces on Zoom:
Hide the “self view.”
Zoom has a function which allows you to hide your picture from yourself while still allowing others to see you. It’s the Hide Self View feature. When you can’t see yourself, it feels more like real life. You see others. Others see you. Nobody sees themselves. Win-win.
Here’s how to do this on Zoom:
Right click on your video (the video that shows your face) or click on the 3 dots and go to “Hide Self View.”
Now you can only see other people and not yourself.
To undo this, click on upper right of any other person (the three dots) and click on “Show Self View.” You’ll also see it appear on the upper right of the person who is talking (see gray button above).
Now students can focus on the lecture and the work, not on themselves. Will this help them feel less anxious and self-conscious? Potentially. Will you join me and try it out?
Of course, this trick won’t help those who have messy homes, loud siblings, privacy issues, low-bandwidth, and other external issues that prevent them from turning on the webcam.
But “hiding the self-view” could be a game-changer. At the very least, it could improve the rate of cameras being turned on.