The Lite lead-in video, a short news item (Video Calls Making you Feel Exhausted? It Could be “Zoom Fatigue”) introduces the work of Julia Sklar, who writes for National Geographic. Many of the contributors to this magazine, and no doubt many of our readers, are talking about how tiring it is to work and teach online. In her article, Sklar tells us why, regardless of what platform we use, virtual interactions can be very tough on the brain. One explanation is that we have to sit at attention with our eyes trained on the camera, trying not to let our eyes wander to look at all the other faces staring out at us from the screen gallery.
My Facebook feed is full of stories from teachers who are experiencing fatigue they attribute to long sessions in front of the computer. Covid-19 has upended many people’s way of living and daily routines, including my own. So, what is so tiring about this new way of living for teachers and the students we teach?
If you are reading this article, chances are you are one among many who are teaching or learning online this year. For some of you, embarking on a journey into online education will be a new experience; for all of you, it will be the first time to do so under the extraordinary conditions that arise when the education system is upended by a global pandemic. Teachers and students have been thrown into a period of disruption. Courses designed for classrooms have hurriedly been adapted for online delivery in an attempt to keep education accessible in a time when we need to enforce strict physical distancing measures. Therefore, what we are dealing with now is not “online education” in the traditional sense, but “emergency remote teaching.”
(Ed. note: This starts as a discussion about online teaching between Curtis and Tim, but ends up like a Zoom meeting on paper…well, virtual paper. Jon Kabat-Zinn was right: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”)
We have a lot to be thankful for regarding the technology that allows us to meet online, especially during a pandemic such as the one we are currently experiencing. Even before the current crisis, online meetings had brought people from all fields and continents together, enabling human connections to flourish by linking workrooms, meeting rooms, classrooms, and living rooms. These days, chatting, singing, and sharing in other ways by using a video platform can alleviate the sense of isolation that lockdown has brought to so many.