Getting Left on Heard

The huge role that participation plays in remote learning

BEING+LEFT+ON+HEARD.+We+have+all+been+there.+The+awkward+silence.+The+hectic+glancing+around+the+room+to+avoid+eye+contact.+The+anxiety+to+be+the+first+one+to+unmute+rushing+into+your+body.+Although+we+can+all+agree+that+remote+learning+is+certainly+not+the+most+ideal+platform+for+school%2C+it+is+important+that+we+do+all+that+we+can+to+get+the+most+out+of+it.+

BEING LEFT ON HEARD. We have all been there. The awkward silence. The hectic glancing around the room to avoid eye contact. The anxiety to be the first one to unmute rushing into your body. Although we can all agree that remote learning is certainly not the most ideal platform for school, it is important that we do all that we can to get the most out of it.

We have all been there. The awkward silence. The hectic glancing around your room to avoid eye contact. The anxiety to be the first one to unmute rushing into your body. Although we can all agree that remote learning is certainly not the most ideal platform for school, it is important that we try to get the most out of it.

In a regular classroom setting, the dynamic of conversation is able to flow much smoother than on a virtual platform. Students can make small talk with their peers, walk up to their teachers with questions, and show their understanding of the material they are learning through their body language and facial expressions.

   Through a computer, these simple aids to education seem to get lost. Only one student can talk a time, therefore limiting class discussions. Not all participants in a meeting can be seen at the same time, leading to a higher chance of missing someone trying to catch the teacher’s attention. Paper handouts cannot be given to students, making it difficult for them to get a visual sense of what is going on. To add, teachers cannot get a sense of who we work well with, which is another reason why they are inclined to put us in breakout rooms, even with people we may not know at all. All in all, this year is just not what we expected. 

   Keeping this in mind, a lot can still be done to try and enhance the online experience, specifically, active participation. It is no surprise that it is extremely easy to get distracted when sitting in your own home. With your phone laying right beside you, it takes a lot of willpower to not give in and scroll through TikTok for the entirety of lectures.

    An easy solution to this is to try your very best to simulate your room as a real classroom. Take notes as if your teacher is standing right in front of you. Keep eye contact with whoever is trying to speak. Pretend as if breakout rooms are real-life discussions. In a classroom, you would not just hear someone say something and choose to ignore them. You would find ways to contribute and participate to help your peers.

   Understandably though, communicating with others, especially people you don’t know, is not something that is particularly easy. Quite often, it is awkward when you first join. Usually, it is said that the first ten seconds of a breakout room determine the vibe. Will we all contribute or will be dead silent pretending as if we are not all just sitting in our rooms staring at our screens? Although you may have to “break out” of your comfort zone, it is super helpful to just build a habit of participating! You will realize that you begin to pay way more attention and retain information much quicker. 

   One method to try and implement to help your learning is to pretend that your teacher will randomly pick on you to explain what they just went over in class at any point. This method makes you try to hear every single word the teacher says and prevents the easy effect of zoning out. Another effective method for paying better attention is to try to set a goal for how many times you will participate in each bell. Not only will you build better relationships with your teachers by participating, but you will also gradually feel more and more comfortable the next time you have to unmute.

   Of course, participation may not come easy to everyone, and there is no need to stress out too much about that. Some people might not feel as comfortable in this new setting and that is totally understandable. All that is important to remember is that virtual learning is extremely dependent on student engagement, and without that, school can become more isolating than it already has to be.