The world of Zoom is interesting. Being in education, I have had a fair amount of training on Zoom. Some of that training has centered around what happens if someone hacks or bombs your Zoom session. I was grateful a couple of weeks ago for that training.
It’s hard to believe that someone, or a group of people, can find great joy in creating havoc. I had heard of Zoom bombing, but it was hard to envision it. But my cousin asked me to be the technical person for an online book group meeting. We were only about a half-hour into the discussion when we were bombed.
It was not just one person. It was a coordinated attack by many people. As soon as I removed someone, they would come back in with a different account. I locked down the session and removed people as fast as I could. It was probably only a couple of minutes, but it seemed like it was twenty. All the training in the world doesn’t quite compare to the real thing when your session is under attack. I guess it’s kind of like the difference between boot camp and actual battle in a minimal way.
But on the lighter side of Zoom sessions, I have had some funny things happen that others might have experienced as well. I thought I’d share some of them.
The standard protocol for students is to keep their microphone off unless they are speaking. Most of the time, a student will hold the spacebar as they talk. When they release it, their microphone goes back to mute. If a student wants to speak for quite a while, they will hit the unmute button. But then they must remember to mute their mic when they finish.
One day, I had a student who was asking about a problem from the homework. Since he and I were discussing it back and forth, he had unmuted his microphone. When we finished with his question, he forgot to hit mute again. At that point, he turned, and though you couldn’t see anyone else, you could tell he was speaking to a child. He said, “I’m sorry. Daddy is really busy right now. You will have to wipe your own bummy.”
In one class session, one young lady talked on her phone the whole time. That class was small enough so she showed on everyone’s screen. A person can shut off their video, but apparently she didn’t think to do that.
In Zoom, a teacher can have breakout rooms for the students to go into. There the students can discuss the assigned topic. After a given amount of time, the teacher can close the rooms, bringing everyone back together to go over what they discussed. I will often do this, then join each room briefly to see how it was going. When the students or the teacher go into a breakout room, their microphones automatically unmute. In joining one room just after opening them, one girl turned to a roommate and said, “I can’t go with you right now. I have to work with these dumb people in this stupid class.” After she turned back to her computer, another girl said, “So, us dumb people are ready to start the discussion, are you?”
One person was munching chips and slurping pop in one class, apparently unaware her mic was on. A few people asked her to mute her mic, but she couldn’t hear them. Luckily, I was able to do it reasonably fast.
I have had students fall asleep and snore, probably with their hand on the space bar so they pressed down on it as they fell asleep. The problem was I could mute them, but the space bar immediately unmuted them. We eventually got them awake. I have also had roommates of my students walk in the background less than fully clothed.
One of my favorites was a girl who was fishing out on a lake. She had set her computer or phone up on a rock where she could watch and listen to the class discussion while she fished. She even pulled in a fish or two during the class period, not realizing her video was on. I think the class was more interested in her activities than in my class. That was probably because the rest of us wished we could be fishing, too.