Active-Class prides itself on being a platform that consistently takes both the student and teacher experience into consideration. As such, we considered it to be of the upmost importance to share insights into the challenges that teachers face when educating online. It’s no secret that everyone has faced difficulty in adapting to the ‘working from home’ era that many have recently been thrown into. Overtime, some people have come to accept this change and reap its benefits. However, when one’s job relies so heavily upon communication with others in order to deliver an understanding of high-level theoretical concepts and content, doing so through an online conference call makes it that much harder. In light of such, I talked to some lecturers at my university to help uncover some of the hardships they’ve faced as a result of teaching online.
Online teaching platforms
Perhaps the most obvious of issues, and one that many will be able to empathise with, is the use of online video conference platforms, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. While these platforms have taken great strides in recent times, it is very rare that you’ll find a teacher or student who has never experienced some level of technical difficulty on these platforms. Those I talked to mentioned problems such as poor connection, as well as other problems such as issues when trying to share their screen of split groups into ‘break out rooms’. While these features are incredibly useful, they can sometimes not work as expected for no apparent reason. Such a disconnect from the students can thus make it difficult for the teacher to have confidence in their teaching.
Lack of face-to-face contact with students
An inherent problem of working from home is the lack of face-to-face contact with the students. While this feeds into the problem above (the disconnect between students and teachers), it also brings a wave of further problems. Firstly, this makes it much harder to develop a rapport with students, and to learn what does and what doesn’t work for them in your teachings. Secondly, by removing the opportunity to chat to the teacher after classes, and generally having less freedom with availability, many found that there had been a stark surge of emails during this time. These can be hard to keep on top of when you’re teaching a few hundred students. Finally, being online means that there is less time to engage with students outside of classes. One lecturer reminisced of times when they kept tabs on their students by visiting them during their lab hours. Contrarily, in the world of online teaching, all such meetings are rigidly set meaning are less flexible day in the life of an educator.
Lack of face-to-face contact with peers
An aspect that perhaps might go under the radar for many is the impact of not being around your peers in such a time. Being in and around the university, for instance, engaged many in the university atmosphere and allowed them to feel immersed as ‘part of a team’. This comes with the opportunity to discuss a number of things, ranging from sharing thoughts on teaching styles and content, as well as how to deal with any difficulties. Not to mention that simply being able to talk with friends or peers can go a long way into improving one’s own mental well-being.
In summary, it is has been a difficult time in the world of education, for everybody. It is important for everyone to remember that and to grant those around you an extra degree of patience. At such times it is crucial that we try to understand the difficulties and challenges faced by those around us. Whether you are a teacher yourself, or a student or guardian, here at Active-Class we want you to remember that we care about and want to hear about your experiences. As such, please check out our other blogs for further insights into the world of education.