Dr. Jeffrey G. Karam, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Mitigating anxieties in online classes.
The fatigue that students and faculty usually encounter during traditional classrooms have become amplified, because of the pandemic, the series of lockdowns, the financial crisis and the humanitarian catastrophe of August 4.
This has led faculty to constantly think of innovative and relevant methods and strategies to maintain a degree of social normalcy. While many areas deserve attention, one of the most important relates to mental health. It remains an uphill battle to keep students and faculty motivated during such challenging times. But there are at least two ways to mitigate anxiety – methods that I have employed in all my online classes.
The first relates to advocating for cautious optimism that centers on keeping students aware of the outside world while encouraging them to remain focused on learning as a temporary escape from external challenges. This encourages students to understand the limits of false perceptions of positivity and hope that are often disconnected from reality and will not easily materialize after graduation or once a class ends.
The second provides students with a safe virtual space where they can vent, express their anxieties, and share with their colleagues how they are coping with several challenges, be it personally and professionally. By allotting time to touch base with students, I have become better positioned to understand and guide them to seek help in adjusting to challenges both within and outside the virtual classroom.
The global pandemic and other domestic crises that will persist well after the virus subsides have led faculty to adjust and modify existing teaching strategies and assessment models. It is important to take a step back and question whether traditional learning methods, faculty-student interactions, and assessment models need to be revamped to better prepare for external shocks to education that are bound to happen in Lebanon.