- Dario Brooks
- BBC news world
Juan Francisco Baldeon is no stranger to teaching: he taught law for 17 years.
Online education is also familiar to him. For the past three years, he has been lecturing on digital platforms like Zoom.
But in October, Baldeon surprised his students at the Federal University of Federico Villarreal (UNFV) in Peru by telling them he was going to quit his job.
A bombshell dropped by a professor via Zoom after his frustration with the perceived lack of student participation became unbearable.
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“I don’t want to teach you anymore, that’s all. I’m really fed up,” he tells students via Zoom.
“You mean to say that I didn’t teach you anything. But it’s not like that… you don’t read it.”
I am considering resigning and leaving,” he said.
Episodes like that experienced by Baldeon show the difficulties educators face with online courses that academic institutions have turned to in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Video of Baldeon’s outburst circulated on social media, with dozens of Latin American media reporting a “live resignation”.
“The situation went beyond my limits and made me say that I had had enough,” the professor told the BBC.
But after meeting with Baldeon, the university administration announced that the professor would continue to teach his courses in mining law.
Baldeon told the BBC about four challenges teachers face that could lead to frustrating situations like the one he faced last month.
1. Disconnect from students
Peru is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic in South America. From April to October, he is in quarantine, which is why schools and universities offer their courses on online platforms.
Mr. Baldeon explains that during a UNFV class he taught via Zoom on October 26, he found that students had not completed the required readings for the day.
One of them recorded the moment when the professor complained about non-participation. The video was posted on Facebook.
Mr. Baldeon says he didn’t intend to drop all the classes, just the one the students showed no interest in.
“The students seem to be in a kind of lockdown because of the pandemic. And they are not reading,” he says.
The teacher explains that the main problem that teachers face when offering online courses is the disconnect between teacher and student, which is vital to the teaching and learning process.
2. There is no non-verbal reaction of students.
Online courses at UNFV do not require students to activate their devices’ cameras, which creates another big problem in Mr. Baldeon’s eyes.
This deprives the teacher of the non-verbal responses of the students.
For him, “the feelings and emotions of students when explaining a subject are visible on their faces.” “We see a smile, anger or worry.”
But being in front of a screen divided into rectangles that have only a name and, in some cases, a photo, this feeling disappears.
“After completing the course, I no longer communicate with my students. Why? The screen went blank,” complains Mr. Baldeon, referring to the fact that students in virtual classrooms no longer have the opportunity to express their doubts outside the classroom. just like traditional classrooms.
3. No group motivation
Mr. Baldeon acknowledges that students’ lack of interest in scholastic reading also manifests itself in face-to-face classes.
But the collective motivation that emerges in schools is difficult to replicate in online classrooms.
“The learning process is collective,” explains the professor.
Today’s youth are accustomed to reading the news on the Internet: “But reading at the university is completely different. In this case, the student must absorb knowledge like a sponge.
According to university administrator Jesús Alberto Garcia, those who sent him the October 26 video of the class told him that the professor had been disrespectful to some students in the past, which also limited the response.
The professor says he understood their point of view, but defended his actions.
4. Lack of space to study
Mr. Baldeon noted that another problem is the lack of training facilities.
“While they are in their virtual classroom, I can hear the ‘market’ in the background,” explains the professor.
The teacher’s excuse is that “they are probably not in a specific learning location, room, or learning environment. It looks like they are outside. And there the teacher can do almost nothing.”
Faced with these challenges, Mr. Baldeon acknowledges that the responsibility for a comprehensive online course does not lie solely with students. Teachers must also find strategies to maintain their level of focus and motivation to learn.
The Peruvian says teachers should “be much more paternal” and find communication channels that students like to encourage in their studies, such as virtual spaces or even WhatsApp groups.