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3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Start Online Class

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

As I am a part of an education CSR program. I have at least 12 classes a year with more than 60 outstanding students all over Indonesia. Unfortunately, because of Covid 19, we are yet to have an offline class. Unsurprisingly, the number 1 question during my workshop is


"When will we have an offline class?"


But after hearing that question, another question comes to mind.


"Why do we have to have offline classes?"


As a facilitator, I found several things that are currently lacking and negatively impacting the situation and effectiveness of the facilitator. Either this will become a forever obstacle or will be solved later through technological advancement.


  • The small talk

Small talk is the foundation of communication skills. Without such specific material to discuss, the speaker can just speak and listen using his/her personal style. In a cohort full of strong-minded people, it is necessary to learn this skill which later will be implemented in the consideration of class conditions and personal style.


In offline conditions, the only barrier to do small talk is the courage of the speaker, which considering the level of confidence these students have, will not become an issue. However, in the online situation, the barrier is significantly increased with the need to write, develop a higher awareness, and also the need to pick the right channel, either through zoom direct chat or another application. Improving this "peer to peer" communication in the seminar or workshop concept, will require risk and return analysis, about how this can be done without too much distraction from the main event and keep it "small" and intimate.


What exactly is the benefit of small talk? Improved common ground and shared interests between awardees, will increase the capacity of their relationship. This will translate into the capacity to discuss more personal or serious topics without risking the relationship which is the key to managing lots of projects ahead. Individually, their listening skills are generally improving, due to exposure to the conversation itself. It also builds muscle to simply overcome social discomfort, generally coming from a lack of conversation outside the class. I remember this one student who never talks during the online class, who turns into some energetic jumpy frog once we have an offline class.


One solution that I have implemented for this is to keep the session open even during the break time, so it lowers their barrier to talking with each other. Also, I use the breakout room heavily, even in the simplest task, but require multiple people. It gives them a bit of a safe space to talk without majorly disturbing the flow of the class.


  • The body language

Adapting to the class situation, require me to find the "unspoken feeling" that students have. This is difficult to get in the offline session. It is almost impossible to perceive things online, as we have minimal to zero visibility of their body language. How can I see them stomping their legs because of the boring material when all I ever see through the monitor are just their face?


Zoom and other applications try to address this by putting some tools such as raising hands and other gestures or emojis. However, the fundamental difference here is that the initiative has to come from the student, and not from the facilitator. As long as students do not make any reactions, it's harder to read them. That's why the offline class with minimum engagement becomes an online class with zero engagement.


This is really an interesting case because rather than duplicating the offline activities (teacher observes student), the application tries to transform it into another use case (student shows to teacher). Still, the barrier to showing emotion proactively is still high and makes it less effective. However, since the direction is quite clear, time will give a better answer.


The solution that I implemented for this is to simply encourage the usage of the reaction and chat. It is important for them to be able and willing to express themselves in a group situation. It caused disturbance early in the implementation, but once the rule and limitations are clear, it will be more engaging and fun.


  • The post-event activity

Post-event activity matters a lot because of the intimacy of the class born through this experience. As the in-class material doesn't stay in the way, they can focus on building relationships and comradeship.


The online class basically allows students to come and go as their please. In a way, it reduces the "time and space" commitment and directly impacted the existence of post-event activity. As post-event activity normally happens spontaneously, the online experience turns what we always do into something that is never done at all.


Currently, there is no alternative activity within my authority to replace this activity. It requires the initiative from the awardees themselves to set this activity, and with the energy that has been depleted after the class, also how easily you can back to bed and directly take some rest, chances that it will happen become slim.


__________________________________________________________________________________


As I consider the advantage and disadvantages of online classes, I still prefer to have an offline one. Even though the delivery of material is a lot easier online, managing the "soft" part of the class has been my priority from the start and so far yet to be fulfilled by the tools available to me.


So, like my student, I also want to ask,


When will we have an offline class?






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