Fulbright Stories
To Teachers who Teach Online: Reflection from a frustrated student

During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019, many countries adopted an online learning policy to prevent the spread of the virus. Teaching online could be quite challenging for many teachers. Some teachers adjusted themselves quickly but some did not. Many students lose their focus on the lessons more when they are online than onsite. In most cases, this happens when teachers keep on explaining. Some teachers tend to use the old techniques from onsite classes, which are not effective for those online. From what my friends and I experienced with online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic, we found some common characters we wish our teachers could have for better online classes.

1. Good Computer Literacy: Teachers who know the content well has a lot to share but teachers who are good at technology will be able to choose the right tool for knowledge delivery. Teachers do not have to know all edutech tools but they should, at least, know some basic applications/functions. For example, they should know how to open webcam on Microsoft Team and Zoom, how to share screen properly, and how to set up or connect a microphone to a computer. These are the very basic knowledge for Gen-Z (1997-present) students but might not for the older generations. Teachers may ask students for help if the situation is getting out of hand. I believe many students are willing to help so the class can move on with relaxing atmosphere and better learning experience. It might be a challenging task for teachers, but it can be done if both teachers and students cooperate. The result will be profitable for all.

2. Be a Teacher, not a Robot: I found many teachers taught like robots. They did not really talk with students. Although this could also happen in the onsite classes, things are worse online. Many students lose motivation because they feel bored. Students need teachers who interact with them more. We need teachers with human touch, not robots in front of the camera. In one of my classes, a teacher lectured using a shared-screen PowerPoint from the beginning until the end of the class without giving an opportunity for students to ask questions. That was really frustrating. Teachers might be afraid that the class would turn silent if no students to ask questions because they did not pay attention. From my experience, there will always be someone willing to start asking questions if it is too quiet. One student could even politely ask the whole class to be more attentive. With such help, the class could move on smoothly and become more interactive.

3.Be Accessible: Since we could not meet face-to-face during the pandemic, teachers should spare time for students to ask questions outside classes. They could set up an online communication platform with students such as email, LINE, Facebook, etc. However,it could be a problem if too many students contact them using different platforms at the same time. teachers should make it clear to students what would be the proper way and time to contact them. They should also be available during that time. Friendly conversation is very crucial.

4.Attractive PowerPoint:A plain PowerPoint without any design is too boring to look at. Teachers might add some pictures, cartoons, music, or even colorful backgrounds to their presentations. The themes should be related to the subject for alignment.

5. No Camera, no Problem: Some teachers constantly tell students to turn on their cameras. We know they wish to check whether students are actually listening or not. However, they should understand that many students are not convenient to do so. In fact, I think it is responsibility of students to pay attention on lectures. Teachers should not waste time repeatedly asking us to turn on the camera or listen to lectures. I do not mean teachers should completely ignore students. Teachers can arrange some tests that require students to turn on cameras occasionally e.g. speaking test or a recording video assignments.

6.Be Adaptive: In case of technical errors such as no sound on videos, black screen, etc. Teachers should stay calm while trying to fix the problems. They should not let the class become silent because students might lose their focus or feel doubtful of what is going on. As I mentioned, the teachers could ask students for help. In fact, they can keep on lecturing without the videos.

7. Anonymous Feedback: Some students do not want to give feedback with their names on it because they are worried about negative impacts on their grades. I personally do not think it would happen but many of my friends do. The alternative way is to have students fill in Google forms or similar tools without identifying names.

The Covid-19 pandemic opens a new path for learning. Technology became crucial for education. Most students are already familiar with devices but not the teachers. However, there are not only a technology gap between students and teachers.Some practices are no longer applicable for online classes. It is essential for both to help each other and adjust together. I hope my reflection as a student could be useful for teachers and their online classes.


by Nonthapat Losuwan, student intern from Language Literacy & Communication, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Suan Dusit University