Week 7: Faces on/off Posted on February 27, 2021 by ailtukhova The idea to count how often my colleagues use their cameras during online meetings struck me during our last tutorial when few people showed their faces. Since the phenomenon of pervasive online teaching is relatively young, ‘Zoom ethics’ has not yet formed to the full, so the rules of online behavior differ from teacher to teacher, from institution to institution. In my working setting, learners are highly recommended to turn on their cameras in the virtual language classroom. Facial expressions enable the teacher to receive immediate non-verbal feedback, check engagement and sentiment, and react accordingly. Speaking to 10 frozen avatars is no fun at all. However, there are many arguments against introducing mandatory video policies in education. Recent research describes a wide range of reasons why video conferencing can be uncomfortable/disadvantageous to students. At the same time, little is mentioned about learners who are hiding behind the avatars because they want to use their phone in parallel with a lesson or enjoy their morning coffee. Does such behavior influence engagement and learning outcomes? I believe it does. Nevertheless, keeping your camera on doesn’t guarantee students’ engagement or success either.How can these data be used in teaching: for empowering or controlling teachers? On the one hand, looking into why students use/don’t use cameras during online lessons can be beneficial, as it may help the teacher understand the learners’ contexts better. However, it is noteworthy that these data don’t provide any ‘whys ’, and the sense-making is still on the teacher. On the other, using these data as an indicator of students’ participation/engagement to measure instructors’ efficiency is contentious. First off, because of the superficial nature of these data. Unfortunately, we can’t be sure that it will never happen, since this aspect of online behavior is very easy to put into numbers and employ in more sophisticated algorithms.