“Black Wall” in Zoom: Students not using the video

It is common for students to turn off their cameras during remote lectures. The teacher conducts the lesson in front of a screen filled with small black “stamps” with (at best) names underneath: a Black Wall.

But why don’t students want to keep their cameras on?

How can this be changed?

Students primarily turn off their cameras to protect their privacy and because they expect to take a passive role. They don’t want to be watched and assume they won’t participate actively anyway.

Simply requiring students to have their cameras on during lessons is rarely consistent with the GDPR privacy protection regulations. Instead, the solution is for the teacher to design, plan, and prepare the lessons so that students’ roles are active with frequent interactions with the teacher and other students. It needs to be attractive to have the camera on and to participate actively.

Online teaching requires more detailed planning of lesson flow, exercise setup, preparation of materials, etc. Unfortunately, teachers just have to accept this. However, studies show that students are largely willing to use their cameras when they feel it is justified to get a good personal benefit from the teaching.

In cases where the norm of having the camera off is already established in the student group, it may require a lot of patience and tolerance from the teacher to change this behavior. The teacher’s strategy should be based on small steps and encouragement, creating frequent situations where students don’t have to take significant risks of negative social exposure when using their cameras.

Lessons in hybrid form: Students both in the room and online

Campus teaching with some of the students present online – hybrid teaching – is very demanding for the teacher. But if you are up to the challenge, here are some advice on what to consider.

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Tips: Fixed Ask-the-teacher time slots

Many students are reluctant to adderss direct questions to the teacher, especially in large student groups or when the teacher is avaliable only online and not least when the question must be asked in writing. The teacher, on the other hand, may feel that there are too many questions about the same thing, even though it is a minority of the students who ask. Fixed time-slots for questions is a strategy to solve the problem.

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Teaching and learning is about implementing the planned course, to meet the students in lectures, tutoring and other kinds of learning activities, to meet directly in the physical room or online, or indirectly via instructions and recordings, as information and in dialogue. It is about the actual meeting, here and now, where the student’s learning really takes off, comes to a halt or is given a new direction.

Checklist for a good course website in Canvas

This is a checklist for you who are a course leader/teacher in a university course with a website in Canvas. It is based on robust principles for what a good study environment for students should look like and it also makes life easier for you, the teacher. Use it to check that you do not accidentally miss something important.

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Plan an intro session online

How do you set up a really good online course introduction ? What elements should it contain? In which order? How do we keep the students interested? How do you design a good session schedule, one that also function well when leading the session together with colleagues? Here is a commented example that can also work as a template.

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ICT: Tools for examination

KAU has two tools for handling specific examination-related matters. On the one hand Ouriginal for text comparison (to detect plagiarism) and on the other hand Inspera for digital exam. In addition, of course, we have Canvas and the functionality with assignments and Quiz.

NOTE that the university has replaced Wiseflow to Inspera for digital examinations in autumn 2022.

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