To Sit or to Stand when Teaching Online

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It’s easy to assume that sitting is the best way of teaching online – all your students will be sitting down. However, there are some advantages to consider standing up when delivering your class. This article will explore the benefits of both options. 

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Why consider standing?

While standing to deliver online classes may be the exception, it is actually more consistent with in-person delivery of content. Some of the possible advantages of standing to deliver the material include:

  • Greater ability to convey energy: It may be harder easier when standing to convey energy – a chair forces you to remain somewhat rigid. 
  • More focus on the material: Connected to the above point, it if by standing you feel you have more energy, you may be more focused on the material and students in the class. Sitting down, it is easier to relax, and you may find that impacts your ability to remain focused on the material. 
  • Increased authority over the class: A lot of signals of authority conveyed in-person teaching are lost when transitioning on-line. While in-person teaching you can rely on the seating arrangement to signal your authority over the class, in the online setting some of these signals are lost – you now have the same-size webcam box as students in the room. Standing helps return some of this authority, returning to a situation more similar to in-person teaching. 
  • More consistent experience: The final reason why standing may make more sense is to maintain consistency with the in-person experience. While online teaching may be just as, if not more, challenging than in-person teaching, it is possible for students to assume that being sat down is easier. While this may not 

Some considerations in favor of sitting

While some people will prefer standing when teaching, the ability to present while sitting down maybe one of the things that you find best about on-line teaching:

  • Creating a more equal and relaxed atmosphere: While there are advantages to increasing your authority over students by standing, this may also make the atmosphere in the class less relaxed as a result. It can feel like you are always looking over the students, or attempting to exert your authority. This may be particularly true given standing tends to be the exception rather than the norm when presenting online. Also joining 
  • Less stressful: Presenting in the online format can be taxing – there are a lot of things to learn and use at the same time. Sitting down can help preserve some energy – particularly important if you are teaching multiple classes back to back.

Mix it up!

One of the great benefits of online teaching is that there is not the same ‘rule book’ as teaching in-person; you can adjust your style, and try out new approaches. You may find that standing is the best change that you can make to your presentation style, or you may find sitting down much more natural. If you want to try standing, there is no need to buy a standing desk – just place your screen on top of a box and see whether you like the format or not.

Either way, there is no commitment – you can experiment and find what works; everyone is going through their own ‘learning process’ with online teaching, and so it is best to try many permutations and to find what works best for you. 

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