Pay attention to facial expressions

Provided by Esther C. Kim, Lecturer, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California. Edited for McNeese Faculty by Dr. Wendi Prater, Director eLearning, McNeese State University.

We can learned a lot by watching how a few highly popular YouTubers maintain and keep our attention. Most notably, the best video lecturers are animated in the way they speak and present their material, whether their topic is how to use scales of measurement in statistics or how to apply bronzer so it looks like a natural tan. While you may think this isn’t what you signed up for when you decided on a lifelong career in thinking, writing, and teaching great minds, there are a few tricks we have adopted to become more animated. 

Since our online students cannot assess our body language, we should use our facial expressions to affirm and engage with them. For example, aim to smile more (when appropriate), nod, and make nonlexical conversation sounds such as “hmm” and “uh huh.” In the same way, pay close attention to what the students’ facial expressions show they are thinking about for particular classroom material. For this reason, we typically ask students to be on audio and on camera for the duration of the class, as it helps us to read and understand the student's facial expressions.