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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Why Zoom sucks for teaching and always will.

My two cents in the discussion about virtual education (an excerpt from The Confession Of The Creative Brain).

I wrote a lot about education, including the distant education. 
More on this page.

Here I want to point out at the useless but very active discussion how to effectively use Zoom for teaching. 

The answer is - you CANNOT effectively use Zoom for teaching. 

Zoom, Skype, WebEx, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or any other meeting software will never be good for teaching.

Of course, to understand and accept that, one needs to know what teaching is and is about.

In American culture, including the top educators, researchers and administrators teaching is not different from animal training, from training circus animals doing tricks.

BTW: one of the reasons for No sign for improving math education soon.

If teaching would have been pouring knowledge from a "knowledge storage" (a.k.a. a teacher) into an empty vessel (a.k.a a student) then Zoom would be sufficient. But teaching is not that. 


Teaching is the process of helping learners to learn. And learning is based on communication. If one-on-one communication would have been possible, then, again, Zoom would be fine. But that is not a case. Teaching requires an effective group communication. That requires a an ability to organize, manage and monitor communication between students. That requires a completely different technological instrument. 

There are many video conferencing tools, but none of them is good for teaching. Zoom is just not as bad as all other are. But even in Zoom some simple adjustments - specifically for better teaching - could be done, and yet they didn't. The guiding principle is simple - observe how a good teacher interacts with students and try to incorporate that interaction into your platform. Well, the key term is "good". For starters, a good teacher does not act like a general commanding solders telling them what to do (much more on this matter in many other posts, i.e. this one). Another example - when students work in groups, a good teacher monitors at the same time the whole class, and each individual group and can quickly switch between groups, as well as from an in-group discussion to a full-class discussion, and back. Zoom does not allow anything like that. But could, if it would modify accordingly the format of break out rooms.
A teacher needs to be able to do much more than just to see students, but the work of every (any!) student (and of course communicate with any student). And a teacher needs to be able to create and re-create collaborative groups and observe the group work and participate in that work. And this is just the bare minimum any teaching collaborative technology must do. Ideally, students should feel immersed in the same learning environment, and that means - use virtual reality. The need to do laboratory experiments brings even more demands to an effective distant teaching-and-leaning technology (far more advanced than primitive interactive videos, e.g.

To my best knowledge, there is no company or a startup trying to develop such technology. 

Hence, distant teaching sucks, and will continue to suck for years ahead.

Dr. Valentin Voroshilov 

For curious people - a reward!

No teaching technology can do any good if a teacher who uses it sucks.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of teachers in America sucks at teaching.  It is not their fault, though. America dose not have a system of teacher professional development (well, America does not believe in systems in general, and look what she got herself into).

E.g. this post, or this one (from many!). 

The roots of American decline - in all spheres, including education, starting from education! - is the extreme primitivism practiced by the managers of all levels.

America! The victim of the Primitivism.


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