Why students do not turn on their video cameras during online classes and an equitable and inclusive plan to encourage them to do so

Enrollment in courses taught remotely in higher education has been on the rise, with a recent surge in response to a global pandemic. While adapting this form of teaching, instructors familiar with traditional face‐to‐face methods are now met with a new set of challenges, including students not turning on their cameras during synchronous class meetings held via videoconferencing. After transitioning to emergency remote instruction in response to the COVID‐19 pandemic, our introductory biology course shifted all in‐person laboratory sections into synchronous class meetings held via the Zoom videoconferencing program. Out of consideration for students, we established a policy that video camera use during class was optional, but encouraged. However, by the end of the semester, several of our instructors and students reported lower than desired camera use that diminished the educational experience.