University of Miami Reimagines Global Educational Experience with Zoom

Students at the University of Miami produced an entire film, held virtual film festivals, and met with international peers using Zoom.

We said, ‘We’re still going to make films.' We brought students together through Zoom — the producer, director, and art director in Miami, and the director of photography and cinematographer in Shanghai.

Ali Habashi

Assistant Professor of Cinematic Arts

We said, ‘We’re still going to make films.' We brought students together through Zoom — the producer, director, and art director in Miami, and the director of photography and cinematographer in Shanghai.

Ali Habashi

Assistant Professor of Cinematic Arts

The University of Miami’s (UM) campus in Coral Gables, Florida, suddenly went quiet in the spring of 2020 as students switched to remote learning at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next few months, some students returned to campus while others remained online, requiring the university to provide flexible learning options in response to the pandemic’s evolving situation.

“We had to go from being a mostly residential, on-campus university to three different ways of teaching — completely remote, completely on campus, and hybrid,” said Ernie Fernandez, chief information officer at UM.

Faculty members began exploring unique applications of Zoom for interactive instruction. Ali Habashi, assistant professor of cinematic arts at UM’s School of Communication, encouraged remote students to use Zoom as a collaborative platform for filmmaking.

‘We’re still going to make films’

Habashi’s students seized the opportunity to create a film remotely, using Zoom for everything from production meetings to location scouting to live direction.

“We said, ‘We’re still going to make films,’” Habashi noted. “We brought students together through Zoom — the producer, director, and art director in Miami, and the director of photography and cinematographer in Shanghai.”

“The future of production may be through these kinds of digital connections,” added Karin Wilkins, dean of UM’s School of Communication.

Hear from UM leaders and faculty about the impact Zoom has had on student learning:

  • Providing education in a global context: “We can embrace this technology and give students a global experience that we couldn’t do before.”
  • Powerful collaboration through Zoom: “What we want to do is to maintain these connections so students can collaborate on projects together and learn from each other.”
  • The future of digital learning at UM: “We’ll be able to take the best of a residential on-campus experience and combine it with new ways of using digital technologies like Zoom to really enhance the education experience.”

Watch the full video for more on the remote filmmaking process and UM’s commitment to enabling global connections through Zoom.

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