Learn to stop Zoom fatigue
With the advent of the recent coronavirus pandemic, most people end their work or school day overwhelmed in tiredness and and exhaustion due to the mental fatigue from the day's activities. Fatigue while working and studying online has become an increasing threat to our well-being since we shifted to remote work at the onset of the pandemic. So what exactly is going on? You might have heard about it, it’s called Zoom Fatigue - a reference to the seemingly endless online video meetings our day now encompasses.
While it’s certainly a cute name, the effect Zoom Fatigue has on our well-being is noticeable. Not only do we feel more tired, we also feel disengaged with our work and colleagues, which in turn, leads to decreases in overall productivity. So how do we combat Zoom Fatigue? Online learning or remote instruction aren’t going away anytime soon for professors or students, so as we head into the fall term, let’s be mindful of what we can do to keep our bodies and mind healthy while learning or teaching over video calls.
1. Don't Stare
When engaging in an online conversation, how do you know if a person is paying attention to you? Usually, we determine if a person is paying attention to us if based on their eye movements during a video call. So, when a person looks directly into the camera we can assume that they are focused on the ongoing meeting. But, when they look through a window, you could interpret that as a distraction or disinterest from the video call. Translate that to real life, how many of us have had 20 min conversations when all we do is look our subjects directly in the eye? Studies have shown that engaging in a “constant gaze” into a person’s face makes us feel uncomfortable and tired. When we have conversations in person, we often glance at other parts of the room for differing forms of stimulation to keep our minds engaged. The question is; if losing eye contact is it not a problem why holding conversations in person, why then is it not welcomed during video calls?
2. Stop multitasking
Although this may seem counter-intuitive, many of us, are looking to work more efficiently. But, how can we get more tasks done in a shorter time frame without sacrificing quality? To master that problem is a note worthy achievable goal for many of us. So what is the low-hanging fruit in our workday whose efficiency can be improved upon? Zoom video conferencing has been an opportunity for people to work on other things like; check and respond to emails, finish a report, and many more. The video call is basically one person talking and the rest just sit and listen. A professor lectures and the students just sit there for hours listening. Research has shown that attempting to do more things at once reduces productivity – the constant switching on-and-off of different parts of your brain as you switch tasks, can reduce productivity by as much as 40%. Plus, your ability to memorize discussion points that were conducted during the meeting is also significantly reduced according to a new Stanford study. Being part of a zoom meeting, and engaging in other activities will affect your learning process. This is enough reason to stop multitasking during your meetings or live classes.
This is a very pertinent issue for students, as their instructors, try and offer your students tips on how to engage in live classes lectures more effectively.
3. Stop looking at yourself
Many of us have formed the habit of admiring ourselves once we enter a video call. You may not acknowledge it, but research says otherwise. On average, we spend more time looking at ourselves than the person speaking, during a video call. That is a lot of distraction for you and the person speaking. "Why is my hair so long?", "I look so tired." "Wearing this shirt was a bad idea." The list goes on. We use our time on video calls to analyze ourselves. How often in real life do you stand in front of a mirror and just stare at yourself? Chances are low. Yet we can spend hours a day or over a week on video calls just looking at ourselves. Encourage your students to hide themselves from their own screen during the next online lecture. Explain to them that a zoom meeting is not the same as social media and it should be regarded as a learning environment.
4. Reduce background stimulation
The issues of live classes is not only limited to people looking at themselves, but also people looking at other people during the video call. The distraction may not necessarily be from looking at their faces, but from the other person's background. It could be their TV, or their sofa, or the books in their book shelf, or even kids running around. The list goes on. We distract ourselves from the tasks at hand by trying to understand our surroundings. If we’re on a call with 7 people, to our minds, we’re in 7 different rooms, and in each of those rooms there are moving parts that our brain are trying to process. Help your students out by placing yourself in front of a neutral background that doesn’t involve too many distractions. Try placing yourself in front of a simple poster or a plain wall; you can also encourage people who are not talking to keep their videos turned off.
5. Be available beyond Zoom calls
Regardless of how well you structure your lecture, students will always have questions – that is the natural part of learning. However, if you’re teaching large classes, it may not be feasible to only utilize the chat function in video calls. Answering dozens of questions at once while you’re lecturing is not very efficient. Try utilizing discussion boards where students are able to post questions and answer each other’s inquiries openly. If students want to speak with their instructors directly, try allocating more time in your day to answering student emails. Remote learning is hard on students, and instructors must adjust their teaching structure to better adapt for online learning.