So, it is time for another online class…. best prepare myself for the pain and torture to come as I click the Join Meeting icon, committing myself to listening to some mono-tone, faceless lecturer who expects me to sit here passively, all alone for the next 3 hours as they virtually throw slide after slide of content at me. My mind drifts off after the first few minutes, camera and microphone off straight away, I find myself watching a YouTube clip on how to contact Amnesty International – surely, I have rights?
The Lecturer, in fairness, is taking their “old school”, pre Covid, classroom designed course and forcing it into an online environment, which for me is like putting a speedboat in the middle of a busy highway – it simply will not work. You see, I learn by seeing, by doing, by being involved and not by you clicking through 20 slides a minute. Involve me, entertain me, make me want to learn, bring your content to life!
My next YouTube video awakens me from my thoughts, a trailer for an upcoming movie! Oh how I miss the cinema, the great films and that famous butter popcorn….Even with an amazing story and entertaining visual effects with the best Hollywood actors cannot keep my attention span for the full 90 minutes, but yet this faceless, monotone voice expects me to last twice as long, and without popcorn! Why not give me some small, bite-sized (say 15 minutes) video content on the key topics to watch prior to class and for our online class to become more of a workshop where we apply and debate the theory.
I miss my follow students, their ideas, their experiences, their “silly questions” which always aided my own understanding. I miss the energy of a classroom and the lecturer’s ability to walk around and to read my body language, to understand I’m struggling without saying a word. Perhaps more breakout rooms I think to myself, or even student discussion boards or chat forums where student participation is graded – that might encourage the A students to share their knowledge?
There are lots of tools out there to make our classes more engaging – In the words of Benjamin Franklin:
Tell me and I forget, Teach and I may remember, Involve me and I learn!