Teachers beware: Things your students might be doing to cut classes online

Published February 2, 2021, 10:45 AM

by Seven Bueno

Back in the day, students would go jumping over the tallest brick walls just to cut classes, running away from teachers and professors just to spend a little more of their time for themselves. Just like the highly adaptive and extremely explorative youngsters we all once were, today’s digital natives also have ways on how to get away from virtual classes.

So, teachers, before you jump into your next online class, here are seven things your students might be doing to, well, skip a few Zoom moments or two.

No. 1: Reconnecting is my nickname

Kids these days might be clever for changing their nicknames to “reconnecting…” on Zoom, which at first glance might be an opportunity for instructors to have compassion for learners with poor internet connection—and in this country, a bad internet signal isn’t at all uncommon.

A teacher in a prominent high school recently shared her experience with a student who did just this. The student found a way not to turn on the camera and attend class. What gave it away was the fact that the spelling of “reconnecting…” was missing an “n.” 

No. 2: Frozen screen

This is another trick I’ve seen among youngsters and the young-at-heart. There are really a lot of students who avoid recitation by freezing their screens on Zoom. Though I couldn’t explain how exactly it works, there are a good number of tutorials made by the students themselves on how to pull off the trick on their teachers. 

No. 3: Disconnected audio

Students have been using the “Leave Computer Audio” button on Zoom recently in order to get away from class. You might be wondering why? Well, that’s because this option allows the student to be visually there, and speak without being heard and also without displaying the “mute” logo on their screen.

In the early days of online classes, the “disconnected audio” started as a mistake. Some students simply forgot to connect to their computer audio. It has since evolved into an opportunity to get away from class without leaving the call and without looking like one is on mute. 

No. 4: Video on loop

It seems like something straight off the classic movie Speed. The technique is quite similar to trick #2, but with a more advanced and believable outcome. 

Some students have also been caught looping a video on their little Zoom displays in class, while going crazy on another round of Call of Duty mobile, or making their daily scroll quota on Instagram and Twitter. 

I heard about this from kids who’ve done it in the past, and they say that they’d rather loop the video out of respect showing that they’re listening, instead of completely leaving the call. I say it’s a rather creative way to show respect, but it could also translate to missing a lot more in class. So, teachers, when you see your students nodding in a pattern, they might’ve just put you on loop.

No. 5: ‘Sorry I couldn’t hear you’

This one’s a bit of a laugh. A grade school teacher asks a student a question, but the kid couldn’t seem to find an answer, so he replies, “Sorry miss I couldn’t hear you.” Out of concern, the teacher tried asking again, “Can you hear me?” To her surprise, the student actually replies with, “No, ma’am, I can’t.” 

The teacher says it’s quite silly that an 11-year-old child is already willing to go the extra mile and lie just to get away from recitation. She let it slide, just to avoid wasting more time. But she says it’s a teaching memory she’ll remember for a very long time.

No. 6: Majority rules

When the class size gets really big, some students have admitted to leaving the calls. They say that their teachers don’t get to realize who stays in class after the class count reaches more than 50. A college student says that he would leave the class since the professor wouldn’t notice. Professors won’t stop teaching just because one student left since there’s a bigger number of other students eager to learn. This hack really plays with the “rule of majority,” as some students use it to their advantage.

Though the students interviewed say it’s to get away from class, they use this hack sparingly and only when they need to work on other requirements for other classes. It’s up to the teacher to be really mindful of who is in class, but it’s a modus that I think everyone should be well aware of.

No. 7: The lecturer on mute

Though cases of teachers and professors being muted by their students are unheard of here in the Philippines, this is an e-learning problem in many other parts of the world. What’s recommended is really for teachers and professors to be the ones who personally create the Zoom, Google Meets, or Microsoft Teams meetings in order for the students not to compromise the class through disrespectful muting. It’s important to fully research the support channels of these said video conference platforms to avoid this situation.

Students these days are more creative and innovative than ever. This, however, should be used by the country’s educators as a springboard for creating better leaders for the nation’s future, and not as a barrier for students from receiving quality education. 

Whether it’s cutting class out of respect or outright boredom, this isn’t a behavior we condone, especially now where there’s really no other place for students to go to. With everyone being forced to stay at home, it’s really necessary to learn something new every day. I hope that this list of seven things can help teachers and professors shape their next lesson plan and virtual classroom rules better.