The Covid-19 pandemic has created an unexpected crisis that has caused a shift in the way teaching and learning is conducted. This has brought out a drastic change in the educational system not only in Malaysia but rather the entire world as they have moved to virtual classes suspending physical classrooms. In the beginning of its use, online learning was introduced as a less-preferred alternative to the traditional face-to-face classroom. Online learning was used in a very limited number of universities, and it was used minimally as a platform to provide extra exercises and to administer classroom management such as filing students’ grade and students attendance.
The social and communicative exchanges between student and teacher, as well as student to student, are a prevalent feature of learning in a regular classroom setting. The capacity to ask a question, voice an opinion with a classmate, or disagree with a reading assignment’s point of view are all essential learning activities. Early studies undertaken into student interactions in the a physical lecture theatre found that students seating placement contributed to discussions, performance and likability (Holliman and Anderson, 1986; Marshall and Losonczy-Marshal, 2007; Kalinowski and Taper, 2007 and Perkins and Wieman, 2005). The concept of belonging to a group has also received attention. Listening to the discussions and choosing to raise a hand to comment, to answer or to ask a question are further activities carried out in a physical classroom. Although some of these activities can be done in an online class nevertheless, student engagement, classroom interaction and the ability to interact with other students and the instructor remains a challenge and a daunting task on the instructor.
Many online courses provide students and faculty, and students and students the ability to interact with each other via an electronic bulletin board, discussion board, email, or synchronous chat areas. The success of these courses frequently depends upon the nature of this interaction. Web-based learning requires adjustments on the part of students and teachers for successful interactions to occur. One important element in an online class is the visual presentation of self. This is explained as the turning on or off of the camera during class. Allowing students to turn on and off their cameras and microphones when they choose, the use of activities that enable nonthreatening interactions with the instructor and a means of self-checking within diverse peer groups may well result in increased engagement with the material. (Castelli and Sarvary 2021).
A pilot study conducted in my classroom made me try and understand the generation that I am teaching and how I can use the traits and characteristics of millennials and GenZ to better student interaction and engagement. My presentation will address 1) why students turns on and off their cameras 2) student preferences in learning 3) teaching tools and what they would like to expect from an online class and 4) some tips on how to ensure the classroom interactivity is maintained and to ensure a move from pedagogy to andragogy. It is not recommended that the precise patterns found here can be reproduce in any particular situation; rather, the pattern of student engagement can lead to ideas, further discussions and and perhaps creative ways to help in your own classroom engagement.