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Company of the Year: How Zoom Changed U.S. Education

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How Zoom Video Communications helped the U.S. education system overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- This past year, almost every student in America from preschool to graduate school has been camping out online, as the outbreak of the coronavirus has forced their schools to close. Zoom has been the key ingredient that has allowed education to continue. It could even be argued that no one company was better positioned, more capable, and more ready for a world that has been hit with a pandemic. Since March, the San Jose-based company has found itself in prime demand, as school districts and universities turn to remote learning. But providing a platform for K to 12 wasn't an easy period for the company.

JANINE PELOSI: I think it's important to note that universities in the higher education space were some of actually the earliest adopters of Zoom. So we've been in the classroom, we've been in the operations of the schools for many, many years. The need for the K through 12 environment globally is absolutely something at this scale that is unprecedented.

- Pelosi says the company adapted some of its offerings to fit the K to 12 environment better. For instance, the company removed time limits on its platform for 125,000 schools across the world.

JANINE PELOSI: We do really believe that it is important that we have that access as a global community. And you know, we've really, really done our best to ensure that the product is going to work for those use cases.

- But remote learning hasn't been such a wild success for everyone. For instance, when universities were forced to take their spring semester online, it was a struggle for many college students. Those without stable internet access at home were effectively cut off.

According to one report by Education Trust-West, the shift to online in the spring was quote, "extremely disruptive for students of color and those from low-income households." About 13% of students of color and 14% of students from low-income households just in California alone lacked basic internet access. And it's not just students who are finding it hard to stay connected and motivated; this new phenomenon, called Zoom fatigue, has also been affecting teachers.

JENNA SHEFFIELD: All of us in higher ed are experiencing Zoom fatigue, and I think it extends to the students and the faculty and the administrators. Part of it is that there's no time to decompress.

- But as we consider a world beyond the pandemic, there is one big question that remains-- will Zoom continue to dominate education? We'll just have to wait and see.