- Author: Dario Brooks
- BBC News World
Juan Francisco Baldeon is no stranger to teaching: he taught law for 17 years.
He is also no stranger to online teaching. He has been lecturing on digital platforms similar to Zoom for the past three years.
But in October, Baldeon surprised his students at the Federal University of Federico Villarreal (UNFV) in Peru by telling them he was quitting his job.
A bomb dropped by a professor via Zoom after his frustration with students’ lack of engagement became unbearable.
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“I don’t want to teach you anymore, that’s all. I’ve really had enough,” he tells the students via Zoom.
“You’ll say I didn’t teach you anything. But that’s not the case…you’re the one who doesn’t read.”
I am considering the possibility of resigning and I am leaving,” he said.
Episodes like the one experienced by Baldeon show the difficulties teachers are having with the online courses that academic institutions have turned to in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Video of Baldeon’s outburst went viral on social media, with dozens of Latin American channels reporting the “live resignation.”
“The situation exceeded my limits and forced me to say enough,” the professor told the BBC.
But after meeting with Baldeon, university administrators announced that the professor would continue taking courses in mining law.
Baldeon talks to the BBC about four challenges teachers face – which can lead to frustrating situations like the one he experienced last month.
1. Disconnect from students
Peru is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic in South America. It is under quarantine from April to October, which has caused schools and universities to offer their courses on online platforms.
Mr. Baldeon explains that during the UNFV class he had on October 26 via Zoom, he discovered that students had not done the required data for the day.
One of them recorded the moment when the professor complained about the absence. The video was posted on Facebook.
Mr. Baldeon says he didn’t intend to drop all the classes, just the ones students weren’t interested in.
“Students seem to be in a kind of lockdown because of the pandemic. And they’re not reading,” he says.
The teacher explains that the main problem teachers face when offering online courses is breaking the bond between teacher and student, which is vital to the teaching and learning process.
2. The students’ non-verbal response is missing.
In online courses at UNFV, students are not required to activate their devices’ cameras, which creates another big problem in Mr. Baldeon’s eyes.
It deprives the teacher of the students’ non-verbal reactions.
For him, “students’ feelings and emotions are visible on their faces when explaining the subject matter.” “We see a smile, anger or worry.”
But being in front of a screen, divided into rectangles that only have a name and in some cases a photo, you lose that feeling.
“At the end of my course, I no longer communicate with my students. Why? The screen went out,” complains Mr. Baldeon about the fact that students in virtual classes no longer have the opportunity to express their doubts outside the classroom. , as they do in traditional classrooms.
3. There is no group motivation
Mr. Baldeon admits that students’ lack of interest in educational readings is also reflected in face-to-face classes.
But the collective motivation that occurs in schools is difficult to replicate in online classrooms.
“The learning process is collective,” explains the professor.
Young people today are used to reading news on the Internet: “However, reading in college is completely different. In this case, the student has to commit to absorbing knowledge like a sponge.”
According to university administrator Jesús Alberto García, those who sent him the video of the Oct. 26 class told him the professor had a history of disrespecting some students, which also limited the response.
The professor says he understood their point of view, but defended his actions.
4. Lack of study space
Mr. Baldeon noted that another problem is the lack of study spaces.
“While they are in their virtual classroom, I hear ‘the market’ in the background,” explains the professor.
The teacher excuses himself by explaining that “they are probably not in a particular place of study, room or study environment. They seem to be on the street. And there the teacher can do almost nothing”.
In the face of these challenges, Mr. Baldeon acknowledges that it is not just the students’ responsibility to have a comprehensive online course. Teachers also need to find strategies to maintain attention levels and motivate them to study.
The Peruvian says that teachers need to be “much more paternal” and find communication channels that encourage students to study, such as virtual spaces or even WhatsApp groups.