In design there is always studio. In studio, a single room in which each student is given personal desk space to work, classes are taught and homework is done. This space drifts between communal and private. Studio has a lot of the attributes people who love study groups look for.
For one in studio you can just stay at your desk and complete all the work you have for the day. If you need to leave your computer running, you can. If you need to leave modeling materials out or something to glue, you can. Everyone understands that your desk is personal and “private”. Private in so much as if it’s in a drawer or a locked box no one will touch it, it may be borrowed if out in the open. Now while you can work totally “alone”, the person next you, and across from you, and diagonal to you are also working “alone”.
So when you are finally stumped on a problem or just need a break and want to chat there’s a room full of people working “alone” at their desks. This proximity of people working creatively on their own problems generates exciting ideas and conversations. As a result Zoom, in combatting Covid’s work at home alone trend, becomes both our enemy and friend.
Somehow joining yet another Zoom class just drags me down a bit. There is no joy in watching your computer crash as you try to share a model or have your audio fail halfway through a 6 hour class. Yet there’s something freeing about the idea of joining a Zoom Study Room.
People from all around the world are coming together on Zoom solely to have someone else study “beside” them. My sister uses it to keep her focused on studying and completing her work. Per her story these rooms are forcibly muted and the chat is disabled. Communication is essentially prohibited in the Zoom Study Room. Those keen to make new friends in the room might include an Instagram handle or Twitter name in their Zoom name to encourage others to find them and start a chat. But for those who just want to keep on task this offers a large room of students hard at studying to motivate you.
Now the silent studying may fail occasionally. As she noted, one day the audio and chat functions were accidentally enabled and the entire room exploded in chaos. Everyone was exclaiming, saying hello, asking what others were studying. Though the initial exclamations were in many languages the entire room quickly switched to English.
I’ve been recommended to try out Study Stream (https://www.studystream.live/). I can only hope that when I try out these Zoom Study Rooms I can experience the accidental enabling of audio and chat. It’s sure to be remiscent of studio in a way a silent room of textbooks can’t ever be.
Have any of you tried Zoom Study Rooms? How else are you maintaining some normalcy to your studies during Covid?