Zoom Gains Focus Mode to Help Reduce Distractions in Virtual Classrooms

Zoom has introduced a new feature called Focus Mode that's designed to prevent students from distracting each other during virtual classrooms.

zoom focus mode
When enabled, Focus Mode allows the teacher or lecturer taking the class to see all the students, while each student can only see the teacher.

The setting can be activated at any time by the teleconferencing host, so for example it could be turned on for lecture periods to reduce distractions from students' video feeds and then turned off for group discussion.

Focus Mode is available on the free desktop Zoom client, therefore lending itself to other uses, like business meetings, family gatherings and so on.

zoom focus mode 2
Zoom announced the new feature in a blog post offering other back-to-school tips to get children prepared for virtual or hybrid learning. Version 5.7.5 of Zoom for Mac is available to download from the Zoom website.

Tag: Zoom

Top Rated Comments

EmotionalSnow Avatar
7 weeks ago

I feel that in the very long term these ‘features’ are really about control.
Care to explain your thoughts or are you going to leave us in the dark? Because I have no clue why you would think that.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
idmean Avatar
7 weeks ago

Focus Mode is available on the free desktop Zoom client, therefore lending itself to other uses, like business meetings, family gatherings and so on
How so? That would be a strange kind of business meeting or family gathering
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mitthrawnuruodo Avatar
7 weeks ago
I've been teaching a lot over Zoom during a few periods of lockdown, and it has been less than ideal.

However, this seems like a nice way to get the students to actually enable camera (privacy concern and distractions are two main reasons why I normally teach to a bunch of "icons on black background").

That way it would be possible to actually get the "feel of the room", although just fraction of what you can get in a physical classroom.

There are other issues to zoom lectures (not least for practical subjects), but every little bit helps.

Now, I don't trust Zoom anywhere near enough to install the client on my personal Mac, I still consider the app as Malware, but on my company issued work Mac this will be a welcome upgrade.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DaSal Avatar
7 weeks ago

I've been teaching a lot over Zoom during a few periods of lockdown, and it has been less than ideal.

However, this seems like a nice way to get the students to actually enable camera (privacy concern and distractions are two main reasons why I normally teach to a bunch of "icons on black background").

That way it would be possible to actually get the "feel of the room", although just fraction of what you can get in a physical classroom.

There are other issues to zoom lectures (not least for practical subjects), but every little bit helps.

Now, I don't trust Zoom anywhere near enough to install the client on my personal Mac, I still consider the app as Malware, but on my company issued work Mac this will be a welcome upgrade.
Honestly, as a student, I feel like this is the worst of both worlds from a student perspective. I absolutely hate zoom calls for a number of reasons:

- It’s distracting/hard to focus - primarily because of your OWN preview (you also don’t do other things in front of a mirror)
- Other students can be distracting
- (Most) teachers themselves can be distracting, for instance by being poorly prepared, having technical issues (bad WiFi - stutter, bad microphone or bad camera) or another common one is teachers taking +25% longer than a physical lecture because ‘they can’ which generally results in lectures that either drag and are too slow paced or on the other end of the spectrum, are overfilled and fatiguing

The upsides being:

- seeing your fellow students
- seeing the teacher

With this new feature, it basically remains a ****** experience for students while also removing any social elements.

at this point might as well just stream a live recorded video and have a live q&a chatbox imo.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
therockyroad Avatar
7 weeks ago

This reminds me of 19th century prison chapels where each prisoner sat in a partitioned cubicle so they could only see the priest and not each other as part of a prison-wide regime of total isolation from other prisoners. Can you imagine the response if anyone suggested doing the same in a normal school environment? So why do people think it's a good idea for online teaching?


Because it is not a normal school environment. you wouldn’t want it on all the time, but it would be good during an online assessment, plus there are special needs students who don’t have their camera on during lessons but would be more comfortable if they know the whole class isn’t looking at them. Our head of learning support is very happy they added this feature.

PS: The model for a whole gaol like you describe was called a panopticon ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon')
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Stromos Avatar
7 weeks ago

Have you never attended an assembly or lecture? This is intended to be used for short bursts of focus where you don't need to see everyone else's face for any dubious social reasons, but the presenter would. I have seen meetings go off the rails because someone's child or pet came on camera and someone called attention to it, or I get really self-conscious about my fidgeting/stimming and kill my video feed.
So instead of learning focus let’s mask it completely so these kids are more socially awkward and unprepared for the real world.

Guess what? When you grow up that big business meeting isn’t going to cater to your issues.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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