Zoom is launching a new feature to prevent students from being distracted as it continues to adapt to the changes that Covid brings.
Video conferencing software has become an increasingly common teaching tool during the pandemic, and with Covid cases increasing again in many places, the new ‘Focus Mode’ feature seems like a welcome addition. It will work by allowing the broadcaster to see everyone on the call, while the other attendees will only be able to see the broadcaster and theoretically spend less time distracting each other.
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The focus mode is similar to Zoom’s existing webinar feature, but while it’s only available with a paid premium account, it will be free to all users. Also, the focus mode can be turned on or off during the session, which is not possible in a webinar.
As a participant, you will still be able to see your own video, emoji reactions sent by other users, and hear other people speak if they have the microphone turned off. You will also be able to see the names of other participants, but not their video feed.
In addition, the broadcaster can also highlight certain participants, which will make your video visible to everyone along with the broadcaster.
There is also a lot of flexibility built in. The feature can be enabled for individual users or groups, and you can also lock it to ensure that participants use it during the session.
Although designed with teachers in mind, the Focus mode could clearly have other uses as well, for example giving a presentation to employees where you want to make sure they are focusing on the slides and not their colleagues. It could also be of great help to anyone who is feeling self-conscious about being in front of the camera, since only the person in charge of the meeting will be able to see them, rather than a whole group of people.
With another semester of online education in the cards for many, Zoom’s efforts to make life easier for both teachers and students are welcome. However, until you can prevent users from opening Roblox in another window, you may still have a long way to go to prevent young users from being distracted.
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