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▪ 2 min

Zoom Fatigue

After 8 weeks of online teaching and meetings I miss human social interaction.

Digital meetings and virtual classrooms drain my energy battery really quickly. Today I learned we have found a term for it: Zoom Fatigue.

“It's almost like you're emoting more because you're just a little box on a screen.”

I feel like i'm in 'active mode' all the time, compensating for the non-verbal cue's I don't see.

“The possibility of viewing hand gestures or other body language is eliminated.”

After 8 weeks of online teaching and meetings I miss human social interaction. I miss bumping into collegeaus in our 'teaching room' and talking about life. I miss high-fiving students in the hallways and chatting about their weekends. I even miss the sweaty public transport.

When students enter a lecture hall they will almost never sit at the front, but look for a seat at the back of the hall and sit over there. The same is happening online with students not enabling their webcams. For some reason they want to remain anonymous, maybe for good reasons: you can look straight into their rooms or homes and students might find that discoformting. I get that, I can't really force them to turn on their webcams.

But that makes things very boring for me, I'm just looking at a list of names and monitoring a chat. I'm watching myself in a little box and having a monologue in front of a computer screen. Basically it feels like livestreaming on Twitch and playing fortnite. But instead I'm clicking trough slides. Talking to smaller groups in seperate video calls work better, they can't go up in the crowd and almost turn there webcam on immediately.

It was a good experiment to see how far we can go with online 'connection' but I'm done with this social experiment. Non-stop teaching in this 'active mode' for 8 hours is too much.

There was one thing that worked the last week. Digital Agency Q42 created a 'borrel app' where you can virtually meat. You float around as a computer and can walk and jump around a 3d environment. Very much like Mozilla Hubs. You can move, play and interact while you are talking, which makes sure you are doing something interactive.The best part is the audio, it's spatial. You can move away from the crowd (and other avatars) and have a private conversation.

A couple of teachers talking to eachother in the 3d environment of the borrel.app.
A couple of teachers talking to eachother in the 3d environment of the borrel.app.

The thing that really struck; we met for about 2 hours in through this app and left with lots more energy. It felt less draining.


As education in the netherlands, especially in the last few years there was this huge push for online learning. 'Everything needs to be online!' Every lecture should be streamed and recorded. I think we now single handely found out how important on-location teaching is. And while I love digital, it won't ever replace interaction with students.

Thanks,
Danny de Vries