Jun 18 2021

8 Tips for Educators Dealing with Digital Fatigue

Feeling mentally exhausted from videoconferencing? Take these steps to stay sharp.

Education is a profoundly caring profession. You are required have high moral obligations and endure stressful work environments, a problem that has only worsened during the pandemic.

During the shift to remote learning, professors and instructors quickly adapted to gain new skills. Many spent long hours learning how to use complex digital tools, modifying their teaching strategies for an online learning environment.

However, after more than a year of hybrid or fully remote teaching, everyone in the education system has likely been affected by some form of digital fatigue — an unproductive state of mental exhaustion and disengagement.

Considering that the future of higher education looks increasingly hybrid, it is critical for faculty to learn how to prevent digital fatigue. To ensure productivity at work, here are some actionable steps that instructors and professors can take to prevent or minimize the effects of digital fatigue.

Tip #1: Create a Dedicated Space for Online Teaching

As an educator, you need a designated space to work. Ideally, this space is a home office with clean walls, a desk, a comfortable chair and a door that cuts off the rest of the household. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Not all of us have home offices. Even for those who do, partners and children may need to share that space with you from time to time. In that case, a small desk in a corner — or even on the balcony — might do. What matters most is having a specific space reserved for teaching.

Tip #2: Be Selective When Trying Online Learning Tools

Online tools are important: They enable students and educators to communicate with one another without face-to-face interactions. The number of these tools available can feel overwhelming. Still, you might be tempted to try out most of them.

If you’re feeling overextended, remember that you can usually achieve the same results with a smaller selection of tools. While it can help to try new education technology, not everyone has time to learn multiple systems. If that’s the case for you, don’t worry. The tried and tested learning management system, for example, is one tool that can help you achieve most online teaching objectives.

LEARN MORE: Here are three ways to increase student engagement in online learning.

Tip #3: Calendar Block and Automate to Save Time

Course planning is second nature for instructors, but the online environment requires even more planning on their part. Calendar blocking is a great strategy to help you save time and stay on track, and you can use various automation tools to help you streamline your processes.

Other time savers include sprinkling in asynchronous lessons and integrating different types of learning activities into your courses.

Tip #4: Delegate Tasks to Teaching Assistants or Students

Many educators have a hard time saying no. But no is a perfectly fine answer to a lot of requests.

Just because you said no, it doesn’t mean the task can’t get done. You can turn to a teaching assistant or one of your students for help. Many would be happy to assist with tasks — especially if you compensate them. This creates opportunities for students to take ownership of their education. It can help students learn responsibility and accountability while easing your burden.

Tip #5: To Prevent Burnout, Resist the Urge to Multitask

You only have two hands and one head. It’s easy to fall into the trap of multitasking when you’re constantly switching between screens, tools and tasks. However, multitasking is only going to get you on the road to burnout.

Delivering quality online education is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Taking one consistent step after another is what gets you closer to the finish line.

MORE ON EDTECH: Learn how to quickly and safely digitize higher ed workflow.

Tip #6: Turn Off Your Camera From Time to Time

Videoconferencing is great for online learning, but too much of it is exhausting.

Video calls force you to become hyperaware of how students perceive you, and this can drain energy.

That’s why you should consider turning off your camera every once in a while and allow students to do the same. You can even involve them in the decision to turn off cameras when face time isn’t important. For example, you can turn cameras off during some lectures.

Tip #7: Schedule Time for Self-Care in Education

Yes, you have to schedule this, just like you schedule your online sessions. If you don’t, nobody else will do it for you.

Keep in mind that self-care means different things to different people. So don’t pick a typical self-care activity if that feels like a burden for you. You can read a few pages of a book, go for a walk or buy something small that brings you joy.

You can also find an online community of educators who share similar challenges where you can exchange tips that make teaching easier. Or you can simply vent to people who completely understand where you’re coming from. Whatever you do, remember you’re entitled to some time to yourself every now and then.

Tip #8: Cut Yourself Some Slack During Online Teaching

You are a human being and you are not perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has bad days. The pandemic doesn’t make it easier. If you find yourself in a position where you can’t deliver something that’s your best, don’t fret.

Ask for a deadline extension. Take some things off your to-do list. Be sympathetic to yourself. Show yourself the same level of care that you show students and loved ones. Consider limiting your screen time as much as possible.

Everyone experiences digital fatigue, and it can be insidious. Practicing these tips can help you overcome mental exhaustion.

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