Letter to the Editor: Camera Usage Should Not Impact Participation Grades


Photo courtesy of CollegeDegrees360.

Liliana Rohrer, Guest writer

This year has been extremely difficult for education. Not only are we dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are also learning how to earn a degree online. “Worldwide there are currently more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries affected by school closures due to the pandemic,” said a recent article by World Economic Forum.

School is hard, and with the added pressure to do well and achieve our degrees and academic goals, we need to learn how to manage our time effectively to be successful at home.

Although this transition has been difficult for students, it has also stressed educators. A notable point of contention between students and faculty has been around camera usage. Many teachers are factoring webcams into the classes’ participation grade. Although participation is necessary for classes to run smoothly, many students find camera usage stressful or distracting.

I do not believe students should be penalized for choosing to keep their cameras off during a live lecture. Some do not feel comfortable with broadcasting their image for their fellow classmates to see. Other may not want to show their current living situations, or do not want to distract fellow students.

An article by Barron News said that students “with only one other person in their home [are] going to have a much different learning environment compared to a student with five other people in their home. Students with hectic households might feel like they are disrupting others when they have their cameras on.”

Camera usage may help teachers enforce classroom engagement, but college students are adults who should be accountable for their own choices. It is the student’s fault if they are not actively participating. Students can make their own decisions, and if they fail to pay due diligence in class that is their choice. Teacher’s should respect the choice to avoid using a webcam.

During these hard times, we need to be sympathetic to everyone’s situation. Classes are not the same online. Having the same rules, or same in-person format, will not translate well. We are all adapting in a time of international crisis, and It is not fair to lower a student’s participation points because they are not showing their face.

Liliana Rohrer is a student at Diablo Valley College participating in Journalism 110.