Five reasons to turn on your camera
There are many possible reasons as to why you would want to have your camera turned off during a digital lecture. It might be that your home is messy or that you have nowhere to be alone. Maybe you didn’t get ready in the morning. Maybe your technology isn’t good enough and you don’t have the money to upgrade it. But there are also many reasons why you should turn on your camera if you’re able to.
You feel more engaged
If you want to really learn something, you should actively engage with the teaching: take notes, ask questions and take part in group discussions. To show yourself on camera is one way to force yourself to be more engaged. Perhaps you change from pyjamas into day-to-day clothes and position your computer at eye level: this will mentally prepare you to be present and professional. Perhaps you clear some space at a table instead of slouching on your couch: this will make it easier to take notes. Perhaps you read the relevant course literature an extra time and prepare yourself to participate in discussions.
You concentrate better
If you sit next to a window at the back of the classroom, it’s easier to drift off mentally compared to if you’re sitting at the front with the ability to have eye contact with the teacher. The same is true for Zoom. It’s often easier to have self-discipline with your camera turned on and it makes it more difficult to do other things simultaneously.
You influence the teaching
During the teaching session, the teacher will focus on the students that they can see. Nods, puzzled faces or a shrug of the shoulders might make the teacher move to the next part of an exercise, pause and explain one more time or notice that it’s time for a break.
You get to know your classmates
Learning takes place not only in the classroom but also during the conversations you have with your coursemates: during the break, before the teaching session begins or perhaps during the walk to the bus once the session is over. And it’s easier to strike up a conversation about instructions, literature or lectures with someone you know. When taking a course digitally, talking to coursemates is a big step, but it’s less of a big step if you know what they look like.
If for no other reason – do it for your teacher
Imagine the situation from the teacher’s point of view. They are sitting in front of their computer and looking out into a sea of black boxes, trying to feel engaged and interesting. Perhaps they ask a question and are met by silence. They don’t know who is listening or how they’re reacting. The energy level inside a digital classroom will perhaps always be lower than in a physical room, but the work environment improves if the participants are willing to make facial expressions, gestures or perhaps even allow their cat on camera.