The definition of happiness is relative and varies from one person to another. As a student, happiness might be related to success, engagement, connection, achieving good results, and having a good time during learning. Students’ happiness can be measured by their participation in class, their creativity, or how often they give feedback.
However, this has no longer been the case since face to face interaction and student-teacher engagement in a class environment has been disrupted by the current pandemic. In the wake of Covid-19, learning and teaching have taken a new face and identity, which has had its impact on the student happiness index. Virtual learning has become a new reality that students and teachers have to cope with. Students’ feeling of happiness and fulfillment is essential because when students feel positive, they learn better. This is why student satisfaction during the courses they do have become a concern for the success of the process of learning.
Thanks to technology, distances between students can be eliminated, and teachers and students can become closer to ensure a higher level of satisfaction.
As a result, engaging the student happiness index has become a necessity. To do so a number of ways and issues need to be addressed.
The way teachers assert their presence virtually:
Sometimes, teachers are invisible on teaching platforms where students find themselves alone with the materials uploaded there by the teacher. This makes the virtual learning environment too abstract, dry, and boring. This absence or lack of assertion of the teacher’s presence makes engagement difficult, and happiness and satisfaction with the process of learning become less. There are also many cases when teachers using apps like Zoom, Teams, etc. the teacher is rendered to a voice narrating or reading a lesson or lecture. Again, students will be less engaged and less happy.
To bridge over this, teachers need to have techniques to manipulate technology in a way that brings them closer to students. The simplest step can be to open their cameras and let students see them and talk to them ‘face-to-face’. To maintain their virtual presence, teachers need to make sure that their internet connection is good and that they are always there to address students’ worries.
The way teachers engage students virtually:
In addition to asserting their presence on virtual teaching platforms, teachers need to engage students in the class and discussion. They should not be let passive and inactively sitting behind the screen. There are many ways in which engagement can be improved. Like off-line classes, students need to be stimulated for learning through some warm-up activity or discussion. Teachers can share a short video or screen with some warm-up questions, give students some time to watch and think, and then let them sequentially give their answers and suggestions.
The lesson should not be given as a string; otherwise, students will feel detached. Therefore, teachers need to break the session into chunks. After each part, they should stop either to give a two-minute break or to ask for student feedback.
During the lesson, students need to be encouraged to ask whatever questions that come to their minds and use the chatbox to post them. Teachers need to address these questions either by explaining them to students or by asking them again to the whole class and let them give their answers, which will be more interactive and engaging.
Also, student-to-student engagement is also important as it stimulates creativity and learning. When students engage with each other, learning becomes more enjoyable and collaborative, which enhances student satisfaction and happiness. To help students engage with each other, they can be divided into groups and each group has its own room on the platform. Students can make this an opportunity to do projects together, discuss ideas about the lesson or just have fun. It is important that students should talk to each other as if they were in real classrooms. Also, to enhance the environment of learning, teachers can assign an online session for recreation in which students may do activities like acting, cooking, etc. This will make students more attracted to the process of learning in general.
Another thing a teacher should think of is to encourage and stimulate students to give feedback. This will help teachers know how students are responding to the learning process and what they should do to increase engagement.
The way students have accessibility in virtual classes:
The challenge in virtual classes is that students may feel detached or have difficulty contacting teachers or accessing materials. This, however, can yield a variety of solutions. Teachers need to let students know their time and work schedule so that students know when they can reach the teacher in case they have questions or issues.
Also, sessions should be recorded so that students who could not join the session online can have access to the lesson.
Class materials should be available on the platform, and they should not be as huge as a book because students will skip reading it. It isbetter to chunk it into files so that each lesson will have its own material.
In other words, attachment and accessibility relieve students’ worries about the class, what to expect from the course, and what to do.
Finally, virtual learning depends on technology and works through it. However, this does not mean that virtual learning should be machine-like. When virtual learning puts students in front of a machine, their happiness index drops because learning is not about only words and information but about environment and engagement. Student’s happiness with learning is related to how much they feel they are part of a community and in connection with their teachers and colleagues.