Online Learners

Hi Everyone,

My colleague had an online class. On the first live session, she realized some students did not dare to interact or even connect. 

What would you suggest that my colleague should do to help her students overcome their technophobia?

What other factors do you consider important about supporting learners in virtual courses?

Please share your own experiences.

    • Dr. Nellie Deutsch

      By Dr. Nellie Deutsch

      Live online sessions can be intimidating for many students. I would take it step by step. I would encourage her to start communicating with her students in the chatbox before getting them to use their webcams or mics. Once they get comfortable chatting in the chatbox, the rest will get easier. 

      You colleague can begin with very simple questions such as:

      1. Where are you? What room are you in?
      2. What's on your desk?
      3. What browser are you using?
      4. What computer do you have? Is it a Windows or Mac?
      5. What do prefer, your cell phone or your computer?

      Conduct small talk and then go beyond. Once they feel comfortable with texting, you can start asking them to test their mics out, and then their webcams. You can start by asking:

      1. What mic do you have? Where did you get it?
      2. What webcams do you have? 
      3. Are you using a desktop, laptop, or an iPad/Tablet?
      4. Can you use your cell phone with this platform?
      • Zahra Shafiee

        By Zahra Shafiee

        Thanks a lot Nellie for sharing your comments. Useful indeed.

        I think student support is very important in online courses, especially their psychological or emotional support. Not all students are technophobes, but there are still barriers as compared to f2f classes.

        I am interested in knowing these barriers based on teachers' own experiences not necessarily the literature. I mean, how teachers have identified these barriers in their classes, how they actually have reacted to them, and how they have solved them. 

        • Diana

          By Diana

          I have a question, Zahra. Were your colleague conducting a group or one-to-one class? If it was a group class it might have been not just technophobia involved. Some people may be just shy among strangers. If that is the case some good old ice-breakers can do the charm. The first task of a teacher is to create a relaxed atmosphere and let it melt the ice. :)


          • Zahra Shafiee

            By Zahra Shafiee

            Good point dear Diana,
            Thanks for mentioning it.
            In fact, she did not mention that, but she usually runs group classes of general English courses.
            You are so right about class atmosphere.