Zooming into Problem Solving
Published: September 23, 2021 by Melissa Foote
When I began the MLIS program in the 2019 Fall semester, I was completely new to the online learning environment, including the web conferencing software Zoom. While I initially missed in-person classes and chatting with classmates in hallways about that week’s unit or commiserating about midterms, I soon found myself making connections on Zoom with peers across the country while we collaborated on group projects. At this point, web conferencing was novel to me, and I had yet to experience the phenomenon of Zoom fatigue. Midway into the following semester the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and lockdowns in California began. Before I knew it, I was helping my colleagues learn Zoom as we all began working from home, quickly pivoting to a fully virtual work environment.
The following semester I began working as a Zoom Trainer for the iSchool, which involved training all INFO 203 students on the basics of Zoom and how they would be engaging with the tool as a student in the program. It became clear fairly quickly through feedback received during the sessions and in the post-training surveys that a majority of the students were already very familiar with the basics of Zoom, such as how to attend a meeting and operating the microphone and camera. Many of us had practically been living on Zoom using it not only for work and school, but also fitness classes, connecting with and friends, weddings, funerals, and the list goes on. Zoom’s user data demonstrates this as well. In December 2019, Zoom reported around 10 million daily users. In April 2020, a month after the pandemic was officially declared a national emergency, that number sharply increased to more than 300 million daily users.
Screenshot of the author hosting a Zoom Training Session
While I was facilitating the Zoom trainings, I was also enrolled in INFO 285: Research in Academic Librarianship with Dr. Lili Luo. In this class I began to learn about the benefits of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The final project involved creating a research proposal and corresponding survey instrument. Rather than make up a fictional research problem, I created a proposal and survey aimed to understand what the Zoom training needs were among INFO 203 students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the guidance of Dr. Luo, I took this assignment a step further and administered the survey among the Spring 2021 INFO 203 students as an independent study project.
The results of the survey pointed to students wanting to know more about being a host rather than a participant, meeting etiquette, and collaboration tools, which ultimately led to creating an advanced training session in addition to the basic training. Incoming students are now able to self-select which training they would like to take when enrolled in INFO 203. Undertaking this project was a fulfilling in that I was able to gain authentic experience with creating and administering a survey, managing and interpreting data, and ultimately solving a problem that will benefit future students at the iSchool. I look forward to utilizing my new understanding of research methods and solving problems using data to my future career as a librarian. Lastly, I’d like to express my gratitude to Dr. Luo for her support in advising my journey.