When it comes to cameras, encourage don’t require.

Inclusive Teaching Tip | Fall 2020

If you are wondering about best practices for having students share their video feeds, we recommend that you ENCOURAGE but NOT REQUIRE. 

Why NOT REQUIRE? This issue has come up a lot in the national conversation (#AcademicTwitter) about remote teaching. Requiring students to turn on their video can create unnecessary barriers to their participation in learning activities. For many, a zoom session is a higher level of intimacy than students are used to having in an educational setting. They may not feel comfortable revealing their surroundings to you or their peers. Internet issues are also a concern – it could be that they simply don’t have the bandwidth necessary to stay connected with video. And frankly, there isn’t evidence that having the video off has a negative impact on learning.

How to ENCOURAGE? Given these circumstances, it is important for students to understand why having their video on is a valuable part of their learning experience.  Let them know why you think their experience (or the experience of their peers) will be improved if they are participating through video. And give them clear indications of how they can do that participation well.  A good way to encourage and support video engagement from students is to make sure that when you are asking them to have their videos on, there are clear opportunities for them to engage and they aren’t passive participants in the learning process. Doing this will reinforce to students the moments when video participation has pedagogical value.

When you find yourself wanting students to turn on their video, ask yourself why?  Is there a clear benefit to student learning if they turn their video on?  In other words, is there a definable advantage to the learning that comes from showing themselves on the screen?  If you can confidently answer yes to this question, then use this rationale to encourage students to turn the video on.

The Inclusive Teaching Tips are a series of simple, equitable teaching practices published in the Learning and Teaching Commons Newsletter. The tips are archived here.

For many, many more inclusive teaching resources and to add your own, visit ALL LEARNERS WELCOME: Resources for Designing Inclusive Learning Experiences.

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