Virtual Teacher-Student Interaction

In every conversation, two stories are told, but one is hidden. We comprehend the verbiage and draw conclusions from the words themselves, but we also draw inferences from the physical cues, emotions, and environment in which we are in.

With the advent of Zoom calls, Google Meets, and other video conferencing platforms, the second story is not hidden but forgotten. And for students and teachers, without the second story, education may lose its fundamental effect.

Business Strategies teacher Ms. Blake has had her fair share of experiences with such video conferencing tools. She believes that these platforms do allow her to “hold class as mostly usual and students can get great instruction this way,” but she also recounted that some drawbacks include that “when I present my screen, I can no longer see my students so I don’t know if they are understanding or not especially when they don’t verbally answer.” 

The situation may become even more difficult for teachers when students turn off their video voluntarily. Ms. Blake feels that it is understandable that students may feel self- conscious, especially if they are just rolling out of bed. However, the key focus of the word “video-conferencing” is “video”, and it is undeniably much easier to teach when you see people listening, and not just the students’ picture icons on the screen.

Students have also garnered a similar perspective on the new teaching technologies. Junior Ananya Vasireddy also reflected that she feels “video calling really isn’t the same as having class in the classroom,” and that it’s more “difficult to connect without that same human connection.”Junior Ayush Chakraborty, agrees that switching on the video can be important “as to replicate the face to face aspect of learning in a classroom environment” and see “familiar faces.” 

So what can students do to maximize their virtual learning experiences? The short answer: be prepared, participate, and switch on your video. Just as it’s important to prepare for school, students should prepare for video conferencing calls 15-20 minutes before, whether that be by washing their face, brushing their teeth, or eating something nutritious.They should actively participate in each call in order to ensure that the discussion remains lively and educational without awkward silences. Overall, switching on the video means enhanced interaction between students and teachers. 

In the ensuing pandemic, our society has adapted well, as video conferencing tools provide us an opportunity to connect to friends from our homes without having to remain isolated. The question remains: what will be the broader implications for education in the coming months? Will students and teachers be able to gain the experience they once did?