Increasing social connection and engagement in your class can support learner motivation and connection to course concepts and skills.
With the move to online learning, Zoom fatigue—feelings of tiredness, worry, and/or burnout due to using online visual platforms—has become a reality for learners and instructors. Here are some quick and easy tips to help.
- If it’s possible, allow and encourage learners to log in 10 minutes early for social time. This will allow for student-to-student connection that doesn’t happen as naturally online as in person. You might need to lead this social time at first, but once students become comfortable and used to this format, they should begin to lead this social time a bit more naturally.
Provide outcomes and agenda
- Stating the desired outcome and providing a short agenda will give your lesson focus. Learner anxiety can be reduced and focus can be increased when learners are clear on what will happen in class and what is expected of them, participation-wise.
Break it up
- Whether learning takes place in person or online, breaking up a lesson prevents cognitive overload and encourages reflection on or practice of concepts of skills. It also has the added benefit of providing a break from the screen. You can ask students to turn off their screens and write down a reflection by hand, get up out of their chairs and try something, or make it a game to have students open their textbooks and see who can find an answer first.
- Sprinkling your lecture with directed questions is another great strategy for encouraging reflection on concepts and skills. If you make these questions more open–ended, directed questions can also encourage discussion, both verbally and in the chat, which takes everyone’s eyes off the PowerPoint slides and provides a small screen break.
- Not every moment in the class needs to be about learning. Quick brain breaks can help with learning and are an opportunity to step away from the screen. Get your students up out of their chair for five minutes to stretch, use the washroom, or grab a glass of water. You can add a chance for social connection with quick games. For example, have them find something in their house that represents them and have a few students share their object with the rest of the class.
- Students often have back-to-back Zoom classes. Ending class five to ten minutes early, when possible, gives them some time away from the screen. You can also choose to leave the class session open for those 10 minutes to allow students to chat about the class or simply socialize, which will help them build connections with one another.
Start small and try one of these strategies in your next synchronous online class.