How Educators Are Combatting Virtual Learning Fatigue

Published: May 11th, 2021

Written by Senior Operations Manager, Maggie Sandoval

“Educators, the unsung heroes of COVID-19, are questioning their normal methods of educating as they work to continue supporting the growth of their students virtually…But through all of the change, one thing remains the same – people learn best through experiences.”

– Maggie Sandoval
Pace University volunteers present to a class during their brigade.

The New Game in Education

We’ve all seen TikToks and social media posts of students “paying attention” while their Zoom class happens in the background, playing pranks on their teacher or professor as they give a virtual lecture, or watching Netflix on their iPad while their computer is connected to their virtual classroom. Educators are being put under extreme pressure to modernize the typical learning experience and prevent virtual learning fatigue. This movement to become more engaging facilitators and capture the short attention span of students has proven to be a lesson that will last long beyond the age of online learning sparked by the challenges of the global pandemic.

COVID-19 has caused people all around the globe to question how we’ll navigate new experiences in light of the social and economic awakening brought on by the pandemic. This collective hardship has given us a new level of empathy and with the right platform, we all have something to connect on. So how is Global Brigades using these new perspectives and experiences to learn and grow? Educators, the unsung heroes of COVID-19, are questioning their normal methods of educating as they work to continue supporting the growth of their students virtually. Even the most confident professors are playing a new game in education, searching for ways to keep their students engaged. 

But through all of the change, one thing remains the same – people learn best through experiences

Global Brigades has taken the opportunity to relieve some of the burden for teachers by bringing real-life case studies of challenges in international development to the virtual classroom. TeleBrigades are an opportunity for teachers to engage students in an innovative way – bringing unique perspectives from Global Brigades Community Partners onto computer screens while opening up a dialog for international Health, WASH, and Economic challenges faced by communities in Honduras, Greece, Ghana, and Panama. 

A Study Abroad Alternative

Hear from Dr. Maureen P.  Bezold, Ph.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Health Sciences and Social Work at Western Illinois University about the opportunity Public Health TeleBrigades brought to her students:

“From the very first time I reached out to Public Health TeleBrigades, to the very latest interactions, I have been nothing but pleased with my experience. They have been so easy to work with and have truly enhanced the opportunities afforded my students. Many of my students don’t have the financial wherewithal to afford a traditional study abroad experience or work full-time to support families. This opportunity afforded these students the chance to participate in something they would otherwise have to pass up. Others aren’t too keen on traveling and this allowed them some of the benefits of travel without the parts that make them squeamish about doing so, like “flying in a metal tube” tens of thousands of feet about solid ground!

Students in my Program Planning and Evaluation course worked with [Public Health] TeleBrigades to improve the lives of community members while reinforcing classroom learning. As for the students, every one of them has said they would participate again if given the opportunity… Others said it has opened up other possibilities to consider once on the job market.”  

Through TeleBrigades, students have the opportunity to: 

  • Shadow healthcare professionals virtually and learn about the challenges of a foreign healthcare system through a Medical TeleBrigade.
  • Put together a Community Health Action Plan to address the public health challenges of a rural community through a Public Health TeleBrigade.
  • Design a water system in a rural community through an Engineering TeleBrigade.
  • Create a business plan for a small business owner through a Business TeleBrigade.
  • And much more!

Take a look at the TeleBrigade Program Catalog to get an idea of the options available to incorporate into student programs.

Practicing Cultural Agility

Notably, empathy is a critical skill needed to navigate life, especially during times of crises. It’s more important than ever for young adults to understand the challenges faced by others, and learn the skills of empowerment – which are encompassed in Global Brigades’ core values. A TeleBrigade is a way for students to gain those skills in a virtual environment.

Tyler Manoukian, an MBA student from Northeastern University, describes his experience with TeleBrigades programs:

“TeleBrigades has given me a chance to practice my cultural agility by working with diverse clients with different needs. This experience has enabled me to lead a multicultural team on a cross-national consulting project in which I learned global business consultancy practices in the context of the developing world, and adapted to implications and underlying factors driving global wealth disparities. As a part time MBA student with international aspirations, this uniquely global project has given me actionable, real-world experience to develop my cultural agility, adaptation, and integration skills.”

Take some time to thank an educator in your life and express your gratitude for all they’ve done for the next generation of innovators, business leaders, politicians, first responders, teachers, parents, empathizers, and humans. Let’s take this lesson in empathy and create global citizens, committed to creating lasting change.

Students from Lake Erie College celebrate the end of their TeleBrigade over Zoom.

Support with Combatting Virtual Learning Fatigue

If you are an educator or if you know one, reach out and set up a call to discuss how Global Brigades can help bridge the gap of virtual learning during this time and bring real-life international case studies to the evolving virtual or in-person classroom.

Global Brigades