By Dr. Anuradha Sridhar, Head – Curriculum Development & Training, Aditya Birla Education Academy
World over, teachers are shuffling between the ‘New normal’ and being back to regular offline school. This constant flux of shuttling between online and offline classes, preparing for the technology embedded lessons to keep students engaged, planning for assessments, answering parents, management… the list is endless. With the increasing reliance on screens, it is a legitimate concern that educators are battling the hybrid learning fatigue.
Educators teaching across all age groups are facing hybrid learning fatigue which is also termed as ‘Zoom fatigue’. Multiple meetings and being online constantly causes teachers to be tired. Studies have shown that being on video chat, the brain needs more time to process non-verbal cues like the facial expressions, the tone and the pitch of the voice, body language, paying more attention to these requires more energy. For a teacher, being in front of the camera and peering into 40 small boxes, and delivering the needful is a huge challenge. Teachers have the constant fear of being judged by parents, peers, and their supervisors.
How can they combat the hybrid learning fatigue?
Considering that the future of learning looks increasingly hybrid, it is critical for educators to prevent digital fatigue. To ensure productivity, here are some actionable steps that educators can take to prevent or minimize digital fatigue.
- Balance tasks for students: When it comes to online lessons, time and pace work differently compared to the traditional physical classroom space. While one can plan for a 3-hour face-face class, the same cannot happen in an online class. A combination of instructional strategies which use blended learning like research skills, hands-on activity, group collaborative activities move the focus of students and teachers from too much online learning. Students can work together in smaller groups and make presentations or choose an activity involving providing students something to read like in a flipped classroom and then getting them on zoom to have a Socratic seminar during lecture hours.
- Use online teaching tools in a selected manner: Online tools are important- they help students collaborate and participate in different discussion forums. These tools should be used with care so as to avoid too much screen time for the teachers as well as the students.
- Avoid Multi-tasking: As a teacher and a person in charge of doing household chores – the tendency to multi-task is natural. Try and plan your day, to avoid multi-tasking. Finish your household chores and then sit on your desk for your lessons.
- Learn to delegate: The teacher can also monitor by keeping contact time with one group leader. Interaction can be challenging while conducting online lessons. With students switching off cameras it can be daunting for the teachers and they can expend a lot more energy in such classrooms. A good idea is to assign a discussion leader from amongst the students – this will help students become more accountable for their own learning.
- Making learning spaces more fun: Teaching and learning can be fun. The use of games, energizers, fun-filled assessment tasks can all be fun and engaging for both the students and the teachers. This also energizes them and in turn breaks the monotony. The use of tools like Kahoot, flipito, or Slido for quizzes, games etc. will keep the students engaged and less stressful for the teachers.