education New Research Reveals How Being On Camera Impacts Remote Learning More than three years after COVID, we're still learning how it changed our lives. New Research Reveals How Being On Camera Impacts Remote Learning Scott Olson/Getty Images
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During the COVID-era lockdowns, schools everywhere resorted to so-called distance learning whereby students would log on to a platform like Zoom and participate in classes from their respective homes.

Pretty much everyone knew this wasn’t going to be as effective as in-person learning — but it was better than nothing for the time that public safety measures kept schools closed.

More than three years later, however, we’re still learning the extent of its impact on students.

Smile, you’re on camera

A group of researchers set out to determine what effect turning a computer’s camera on might have on the ability to focus on schoolwork. The results varied based on the settings involved, and there was one particular situation that seemed to have an especially detrimental impact on students’ ability to learn and perform well on assignments.

In one study, students participated in remote assignments either as part of small or large groups. Some were asked to turn their cameras on and others were allowed to keep them off — but none were able to view themselves during the trial.

After considering their performance on an exam based on the lesson and asking questions about their levels of anxiety, there didn’t appear to be any notable difference between the groups based on whether their cameras were active.

Appearance anxiety

In a separate study, students were asked to turn on their cameras and use their computer’s “self-view” feature that allowed them to view themselves as they participated in the lesson.

Not only did participants register a significantly higher level of anxiety, but they scored lower on the exam.

Just as when they’re in class and others can see them, it appears that students aren’t negatively impacted by having their images displayed on Zoom. But it’s clearly a different story when they can see themselves.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee April 4th, 2023
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