Virtual meetings create opportunities for laughter and chaos

The world as we know it has changed drastically in the past year. The use of virtual meetings to hold classes and meetings are now  everyday occurrences.  Zoom, Google Meet, Teams and other various platforms, allow the world to move on even during a global pandemic.  

The change from in-person to virtual classes allowed people to stream from home and have more freedom.  It also created some awkward, embarrassing and hilarious moments that those online had a front row seat for. Once you see something, it can’t be unseen.  

“My cat jumped up in my lap while I was in a Zoom class. It wasn’t a problem until she turned around and the whole class had to stare at her butt, ” Kara Bowman, a junior Special Education major, said.  

Another student was going to take her class virtually one day instead of going to campus for in-person classes.  After making sure the student was online and could hear the lecture, the professor shared her screen for a presentation and asked if that student could see the screen as the students in the class did.  The student who was online replied that no, she couldn’t see the screen, because she was driving! That might take multitasking to a whole new level.

The change to virtual classes is not all fun and games and can be hard on a student. Some  have to get creative to fit those classes in.  

 “One heart-warming story this semester is about a student who has a class right before mine, and she does not have enough time (ten minutes between classes) to find a quiet place on campus for our Teams meeting. What she has opted to do is to park her car close to the building in which she has her first class in the morning before mine, run to her car and sit in there using her cellphone to access Teams — for the entirety of the class, three times a week!” Yun Ding, Associate Professor of Communication, said. 

Ding said stories like this show that, “some of our students are really dedicated learners, and they deserve our understanding and help.”

It has been hard on the professors also.  They sometimes record lectures and unload them for the students to view later.  This simple task can also be much more complicated than you think.

One professor said that COVID-19 made him realize there are advantages to a live classroom lecture over a recorded Zoom lecture. He came to the office to record a lecture for Zoom over spring break. He came on a Saturday afternoon because he knew no one would be around, and he could record without interruption.  

“In the middle of my lecture, my cell phone rang. I promptly turned off the phone and continued lecturing. Then, my office phone rang, and I picked up the phone and put the receiver back down on its cradle. A few moments later, someone was knocking on my door. Thinking it must be an emergency, I went to the door. The person there said she had seen my car in the parking lot and wanted to say hello,” Russ Witcher, Communication professor, said. 

Others tell of things that happen on their virtual meetings that left them shaking their heads.

“I’ve been in two meetings where people fell asleep.  That happens in regular meetings now and then of course, but nobody could nudge the person awake when you’re meeting via Zoom!” Paula Hinton, Associate History Professor, said. “My favorite, though, is the time when this one person’s cat was using the litter box right behind him–he didn’t notice, but the rest of us did!”

Casual Friday became casual every day of the week.  Across the nation, students logged on to virtual classrooms in their pajamas, no make-up, hair all askew.  Baseball caps, hoodies and hair scrunchies became everyday attire.  Professors who required students to turn their cameras on sometimes got more than they bargained for.  They saw their students in a variety of places: the kitchen, sitting at the table, lounging on the couch, sitting up in bed, in a car and even in the bathroom. 

At another university, a student missed a meeting with a professor, so the professor FaceTimed the student.  The student made the mistake of answering the call while getting out of the shower.  The student tried to be professional  and did a wonderful job of only showing his head and shoulders on the call.  Unfortunately, he forgot about the mirror in the bathroom where his reflection could be seen.  The meeting was quickly rescheduled.  

Everyone needs a laugh sometimes, and some antics in the virtual world certainly provide those. A good rule to follow is to be aware of your surroundings, and make sure you are aware of what others are seeing.