What Can You Do About Screen Fatigue?

Faced with the responsibility of teaching and learning at a distance, we are leaning on digital tools like never before. While trying these new approaches to reach our educational goals can create an exciting space for innovation, our dependence on virtual interaction also comes at a cost. All that time on screens can be, for both students and faculty, exhausting.

Video calls drain us for several reasons. Above all, in the words of Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy of the Harvard Business Review, “they force us to focus more intently on conversations in order to absorb information.” And yet “video calls make it easier than ever to lose focus.” 

Luckily, there are ways to ameliorate “Zoom fatigue” and “screen fatigue” more generally. You can check out our tipsheet on Avoiding Zoom and Screen Fatigue for more background on why this kind of exhaustion happens as well as ideas for avoiding or tempering the effects. For example:

  • Take breaks between video meetings
  • (For faculty) Build significant off-Zoom time into your contact time with students (e.g., through asynchronous components or exercises during synchronous sessions that take students off-screen)
  • Use breaks to refocus your eyes on different focal distances
  • Avoid multitasking when on a video call

These times require us to use technology to facilitate learning, which means we’re also in a situation where we need to use it thoughtfully. We hope you’ll find the ideas on our tipsheet helpful—and, if you have strategies of your own to share, please reach out to us to share them at cndls@georgetown.edu!