Five reasons to turn the camera on
There may be many reasons to keep the camera turned off during a digital lecture. Maybe the house is messy or there is no privacy. You may not have the energy to get ready. Maybe your computer is not working properly and you cannot afford to buy a new one. But there are also many reasons to turn the camera on if you have the opportunity.
You feel more involved
If you really want to learn, you need to be active in the teaching sessions: take notes, ask questions and participate in group discussions. Turning the camera on is a way of forcing yourself to get more involved. Perhaps you could change out of your pyjamas and set the computer up at eye level; you are then mentally prepared to be present and professional. You could also clear up some space on a table instead of lying on the sofa which will make it easier to take notes. Maybe you could read more of the course literature and prepare yourself to participate in discussions.
You concentrate better
It is easier to lose track if you are sitting at the back of the classroom next to a window as opposed to sitting at the front and making eye contact with the lecturer. It is the same thing on Zoom. Your self-discipline improves with the camera on and it is more difficult to do other things at the same time.
You influence the teaching
The lecturer will focus on the students they see when they navigate the teaching session. Nodding, inquiring expressions or shrugs could get the lecturer to move on to the next step in an exercise, stop and explain something again, or realise that it is time for a break.
You get to know your classmates
Learning does not just take place in a classroom but also in conversations with others on the course: during the break, before the class starts or maybe while you are walking to the bus afterwards. And it is easier to discuss instructions, literature or lectures with someone you are a little bit familiar with. It is a big step to talk to a classmate when you are studying digitally; however, it would be easier if you could see what the other people on the course look like.
If nothing else – do it for the lecturer's sake
Put yourself in the lecturer's situation. They sit in front of their computer and look into an expanse of black boxes while trying to be involved and interesting. They might ask a question and are met with silence. They do not know who is listening or how they are reacting. In most cases, there will always be less energy in a digital classroom than in a physical room, but facial expressions, gestures and maybe a cute cat, will make the environment slightly better.