eLearning Innovations: CSUN Professor Finds that Zoom Increases Engagement and Sense of Community in Students

  • CSUN professor Abraham Rutchick presents Hybrid 2.0: Real-time Online Section (ROS), which uses a highly effective app called Zoom.

    At CSUN's eLearning Showcase, professor Abraham Rutchick demonstrates how effective the Zoom app is to online classes. Photo courtesy of Abraham Rutchick.

At this year’s California State University, Northridge eLearning Showcase, faculty demonstrated how technology can enhance the learning experience of students in the classroom. Presentations included Abraham Rutchick’s Hybrid 2.0: Real-time Online Section (ROS), Kaitlin Bahr’s BioStatsBuddy app and Sally Spencer’s Interactive Simulations: Bridging the Gap Between Course and Career. In this series, CSUN Today profiles each of these projects. This story looks at psychology professor Abraham Rutchick’s Hybrid 2.0: Real-time Online Section (ROS).

Hybrid 2.0: Real-time Online Section (ROS) uses Zoom, an app containing video and audio, slides and a chat window for students to ask questions.

In Rutchick’s class, the use of Zoom increased students’ engagement. Those who were not able to make it to campus or have a far commute could take the course from a distance or watch lectures online, increasing the attendance and participation online. A chat option also allowed them to participate in class by letting them ask questions through a moderator.

He observed the increase in participation online during one class.

“What I did was I had two concurrent sections,” said Rutchick. “[At first] I taught my normal class with 150 people, and I tried to keep it exactly the same. So I was teaching these [150] students, and concurrently, there was a student in the back with a laptop — [the] moderator — filming me, and there were 48 more students online somewhere, watching and engaging with the class at the same time.”

He also conducted a survey to support his claim. Students rated how much they learned in a previous online class, and they voted 3.5/5. Students then rated Rutchick’s class with Zoom, and they rated 4.3/5.

The live video and audio allowed ROS students and students in the classroom to learn synchronously, increasing the students’ sense of community  The chat window also allowed students to ask Rutchick questions on information that they didn’t catch the first time or didn’t quite understand. In this way, students developed a professional connection with Rutchick. Additionally, answering students’ questions benefited both ROS students and students in the classroom when it came to tests.

“[Zoom] was meant to create a course in which online students have more of a sense of community, of connection with me and with other students,” he said.

Rutchick’s survey on students demonstrated how effective the use of Zoom was when it came to student-to-student and professor-to-student connections.

Students rated how well they connected with their last online instructor and agreed on 3.2/5. Students then rated how well they connected with Rutchick, and they agreed on 4.2/5. Students also rated their sense of community in the past class, for an average score of 2.9/5. ROS Students rated Rutchick’s class 4.1/5.

Hillary Kaplowitz, Instructional Design & Multimedia Services lead at the Faculty Technology Center, assisted Rutchick’s project, and she praised his work for accommodating all of his students.

“Abe used technology to increase the number of students he can teach beyond the limits of the seats in the classroom,” said Kaplowitz. “In this way, it allowed Abe to provide access to more students, which benefits everyone involved.”

For more information on Hybrid 2.0: Real-time Online Section (ROS), please contact abraham.rutchick@csun.edu

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