Today we’ll be discussing tip #3: Ask students to keep their cameras on.
In a virtual classroom, some students may prefer not to be seen (maybe they’re still in pajamas or sitting in bed), so they turn off their webcams. But there are several reasons why leaving webcams on is beneficial, and these should be communicated to the students.
For starters, in a virtual classroom, students may feel a sense of disconnectedness that they don’t feel in a physical classroom. When all students allow themselves to be seen and heard, however, using their webcams and microphones, they help simulate a physical classroom environment. This minimizes the feeling of disconnectedness.
In the physical classroom, teachers can read students’ body language and observe their behaviors, so they get a sense of who’s paying attention, or who’s struggling. This body language also gives teachers feedback on their lessons. Is it interesting and engaging? Is it at the appropriate skill level? These observations are more difficult to make online, and nearly impossible when students’ cameras are off. In fact, without seeing their faces in real-time, teachers don’t even know if students are really there.
Teachers should, therefore, request all students to keep their webcams (and microphones) on, as everyone in the virtual classroom will benefit.
Join us next week when we explore tip #4: Do a social check-in at the beginning of class.