Many education professionals just resign themselves to the amount of stress and mental fatigue that inherently comes with the job. It used to be that there was no other choice. For instructors, it’s probably not realistic to completely remove burnout from your life, but we happen to know that a lot of you aren’t taking advantage of some of the tools available to combat the mental fatigue and stress that leads to that overwhelming feeling of true burnout. One such tool is the one we happen to have created specifically to make life easier for students and instructors alike. So if you’re staring down the road at another semester of mental fatigue and stress and are considering solutions, look no further.
It may surprise you to learn that there’s some debate in academia about class size. On the one hand, advocates for smaller classes point to a lot of compelling evidence that fewer students per teacher is ideal for many reasons: student engagement, efficacy of curriculum, meaningful connections, and instructor workload to name a few big ones. Others point to studies that are no less rigorous but have found the story to be a little murkier. These conclude that more research is needed and that class size is only one of many factors that play a role in student success.
We agree that it’s important to continue to look into these things and are absolutely open to the idea that there’s more to the story, but we also understand that the actual experiences of instructors who face this question head-on every single day is the more urgent catalyst. In many cases, class sizes are growing and instructors are feeling it, hard. While it may not be feasible to actually shrink your class size, tools that centralize all digital aspects of class and create spaces for communication can virtually shrink the classroom. Tools like Nectir, the first and still only backchannel created specifically for higher education.
So what does “virtually shrink the classroom” mean in practice? Anecdotally, communication in general makes up a huge chunk of teaching duties for the average instructor. After all, communicating is central to the student-teacher relationship, whether it’s the direct interactions of communicating curriculum and expectations, in-class discussion, and of course the lectures themselves. Then there’s the out-of-class work of answering students’ emails or text messages, office hours, and other one-on-one interactions. The latter are often overlooked even by instructors themselves as contributing to extraordinary mental fatigue.
So much of the work of communicating happens through the instructor, outside of the classroom. But with Nectir, it’s possible to centralize all comms. The platform allows you to create any number of separate spaces for students in any size group to communicate, and you can use Nectir on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. All of this functionality removes the need for excess emails and text messages, and creates a permanent virtual space where students are able to lean more heavily on each other any time of the day, which in itself is a cornerstone of a positive college experience. Speaking of that ...
Lowering barriers to collaboration is a major step on the road to building the meaningful connections between students that are so important for a well-rounded education. A true sense of community among a cohort or class helps with engagement in many ways. Students can work together to build critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The more class engagement, the more empowered students are to participate and seek answers through other students.
With a tool like Nectir, instructors can create spaces for students to meet virtually on their own schedule to problem-solve, plus conversations are preserved indefinitely so students can go back and review those discussions even if they missed them happening in real-time. Likewise, if a student misses a class, logging on to chat with other students and instructors later is much easier when there’s a dedicated platform for out-of-class discussion with a variety of messaging types that make it more accessible than ever for any student to become part of the conversation. And in the world where asynchronous teaching is becoming more and more necessary, a tool like this makes a huge difference when it comes to creating spaces for students to collaborate. In a classroom connected by Nectir, students become central to the entire group learning process, rather than feeling siloed and relying on instructors to facilitate every interaction. Which is excellent, because …
It’s a self-building strategy where facilitating maximum opportunities for engagement can create an exponential uptick in the effectiveness of each lecture, discussion, and assignment. There’s no perfect solution that will ensure 100% engagement, of course – there will always be students who need extra help or struggle in certain areas. But with a tool that empowers the majority of students to be engaged and stay on track in a more self-sufficient way, instructors should have much more time to give to the students who truly need it.
This entire process has the net benefit of making an instructor’s life easier if employed properly. More engagement should in theory lead to better preparation for a majority of the students, meaning overall better outcomes for every student, which in turn leads to happier students, better evaluations, and less stress for everyone.
When it comes to effectively relieving some of the factors that cause instructor burnout, Nectir is the right tool for that job. Not only is it designed specifically for the solutions we’ve discussed, it’s also super easy to use, so implementing it won’t be a headache like other platforms can be. It’s intuitive for anyone who’s used any kind of chat app before, so students will take to it very quickly. Its features are designed to facilitate conversations of all sizes, and it has mobile notifications so you can reply from anywhere. But the best part is that you may not need to respond at all, as another student may answer before you have to. Plus, everything written in class channels, sub channels, or threaded conversations is saved and searchable by anyone anytime, reducing the need to repeat conversations and answer the same question again and again. Bottom line, Nectir facilitates more dynamic and structured communication opportunities between students and instructors, creating the potential for a more engaged class. Assisting other students helps peers, focuses instructor attention, and benefits everyone. Try Nectir for free to see for yourself.