The role of emotions in the virtual classroom

In recent years, research has confirmed that emotions play a fundamental role in the learning acquisition process. The design and functioning of our brain establishes an intimate relationship between the cognitive processes involved in learning and emotions.

We know, as the studies by Gruber, Gelman and Ranganath indicate, that emotional processing has a powerful influence on attention and memory, causing us to create false memories or for certain events to remain forever etched in our memory. The activity of the system exerts a strong influence on brain functioning in general and on learning in particular, so if we can stimulate it and put it at the service of learning, we will gain a great ally.

Virtual education and emotions

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a process that had already been developing for years: virtual education. This methodology has emerged as a different way of teaching and learning with the aim of responding to the needs that have arisen in the future of our society, bringing knowledge to everyone, without space-time barriers. This methodology offers high flexibility, but requires the responsibility and commitment of the students, since it gives them greater control over the process.

It is here where the involvement of emotions takes on special relevance through a truly innovative and didactic methodology that is not limited to merely giving a class through a camera, in which emotions also play a relevant role.

In this sense, and for emotions to play the role that corresponds to them, we must take into account some cardinal aspects when teaching virtually:

  1. Easy access platform. It is necessary to have a “friendly” platform that allows simple navigation, with easy access to resources, to avoid that the simple act of accessing or browsing this causes boredom and a feeling of rejection, which negatively predisposes us to the class or the task to develop.

  2. The student, center of the learning process. In recent years, the tendency to place the student as responsible for their learning process has been gaining more force, giving the teacher a role of counselor, companion, guide of the process. We should not focus our efforts on the master class or on technology, due to the fact that it is online teaching, but rather that we should expect the student to develop skills that allow them to acquire knowledge in a much more effective and meaningful way.

  3. Knowledge of teachers and students with each other. Creating a climate of respect, knowledge and trust is essential for the proper development of the teaching-learning process. Something that is possible in virtual education. Collaboration between students, teamwork from an intercultural perspective and the possibility of doing practical and participatory classes is a plus of motivation towards learning. To do this, webinars, the chats, forums and live classes are tools that facilitate the process.

  4. Diversity of resources. The resources must be varied and allow adaptation to the different rhythms and interests of the students. Varying the content helps us reach more and adapt to different realities, which allows us to improve the satisfaction and motivation of the students and, therefore, a positive emotional predisposition towards learning.

Selection of tools

On the other hand, the knowledge and use of office tools deserves a separate chapter, since it acquires a fundamental value in online teaching. Experience in using these tools is a guarantee of success. It is necessary to know the possibilities that technology offers us.

Currently, we have a multitude of these tools that offer possibilities that years ago we would not have even imagined. We can find some examples that teach us that, where before we had to settle for a two-dimensional image of the human body to study it, now we have three-dimensional images that we can manipulate, cut and disassemble, greatly facilitating the visualization of the structures that we must study; images that we can project in class and that each student can see wherever they are. We can also have direct corrections from the teacher, out loud, on a document that the student has worked on, and that they can reproduce, advance and rewind at their own pace. The student can see the teacher’s explanation wherever he is, asking directly from anywhere in the world connected to the internet, avoiding travel and facilitating time management.

These and many other tools at the service of didactics facilitate learning for several reasons: they give the student great control over their learning process, which increases their flexibility, creates attractive, emotionally positive learning environments, and favors the student’s approach. to knowledge.

The good training of the teacher, the creation of a pleasant and cooperative space, the good use of office tools and the active participation of the student in practical learning will allow an adequate emotional state that will enhance, in a very revealing way, much more learning significant in virtual education.

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