Stack ’em up, zoom ’em down

Spoiler alert, this post is a mini rant! Don’t expect anything balanced, and because I didn’t get round to writing this last week it’s probably out of date.  
So last week I spotted this tweet from Vicki 

which was a reaction to this tweet from Lawrie 

about the new immersive scenes Zoom are adding to “allow the host to set a custom background theme for their meetings or create layouts where participant videos are embedded within a scene that everyone shares, like a classroom . . .” 

Why? Just why? If you are running a virtual classroom then you and your students are not all in the same room, so why pretend? Why create a false visual hierarchy?  What purpose does it serve except to extend and enhance a false sense of “normality” and control with students neatly staked in rows and the teacher at the “front”. Why try to re-create an old fashioned notion of a classroom and badge it as the “future now”.  

It does kind of remind me of when Second Life was all the rage and there was a trend for universities to build virtual campuses that replicated the physical campus including huge (mostly empty) offices for senior staff.  . .    

But back to Zoom. The newly enhanced creation “thingys” (my choice of technical term)  might be more useful.  They will apparently provide  “animated reactions to make nonverbal communication more noticeable and fun. These animations will also include an audio element (e.g. sound of clapping)”.   Sound of clapping might be nice, for a bit, particularly at online conferences – but I just wonder how long it will take for “noticeable and fun” to become ‘annoying and bland”?  

I just wish companies like Zoom would think out of box just now and not try to stuff us all back into them.  When we do all get back into rooms again, lets hope we don’t just go back to rows of desks . . . I’m now thinking even more about the need for asterisks not straight lines . . .

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