Beyond Video Conference Fatigue

Craving In-Person Teaching and LearningVideo versus in-person

More than fifteen years ago, as I was choosing a library science graduate school, my number one priority was that the program be an in-person style plan. At the time, many of the library schools had both in-person and online options. I tend to be a kinesthetic learner, and I am an extrovert. These two things in my make-up crave the physical presence of others.

This fall, my school is working through a hybrid of in-person and online learning. For seventy-five percent of our students, we are wearing masks, sometimes face shields, and practicing social distancing—all while teaching, using online video, twenty-five percent of our students who remain at home. The benefits of the rural library are larger spaces and fewer students. The drawbacks of the rural setting are struggles with Internet reliability and other infrastructure concerns related to distance learning. I am so happy to see my students, both in-person and online, but it is a struggle to balance the hybrid model.

Why Do Even Tech-Savvy Librarians Dislike Video Conferences?

It is hard to explain how someone could love educational technology but loathe the constant video conference meetings. However, the loathing is a common sentiment.  Articles like Forbes‘ “Here’s My Plan: I Don’t Ever Want to Use Zoom Again” and New York Times‘ “Why Zoom Is Terrible” reveal the very real condition of video meeting fatigue.

Sarah Brennan from ITPro explains the science behind Zoom fatigue. Some of the worries include the lack of non-verbal feedback and the temptation to multitask. There is also the stress of having a video camera on your face. These concerns lead to disengagement, which is an enemy of learning.

Alternatives and Working through the Medium

Unfortunately, until there is a vaccine, our schools and school libraries will have at least some distance learners. Frankly, some of our schools need to progress into the 21st century. Out of necessity, the pandemic has brought us so far in such a short time. It is a concern that once we return to in-person classes, we will abandon the progress we have made.

This crisis has created an opportunity to embed library programming into the school’s learning management system (LMS). The LMS offers an alternative delivery method from constant video instruction. Other ways to vary distance student learning and enhance engagement could include gaming, social media, and group chats.

Here are some other resources that offer  ways to enhance distance learning using video conferencing and other tools.

What Day Is It Anyway?

Another struggle with online conferencing is the inexactness of time. There is a distinct need for breaks from screentime and just simply knowing what day of the week it is.  Not only are we schooling online, we are worshipping and socializing though the Internet. To mark time we name each day, and because many have been isolated for so long we hope to truly note the seasons this year.

Ways to note the season include celebrations in whatever learning you use. September is both Fall Hat Month and National Library Card Sign-Up Month. September 8 is International Literacy Day.  And International Dot Day inspired by the book The Dot by Peter. H. Reynolds is September 15. Finally, September 27-October 3, 2020, we celebrate Banned Books Week.

Also, on the bright side this may be one of the most economical conference seasons ever. School Library Journal has a number of online events like “Picture Books for Fall” and “Fall Graphic Novels for All Levels.” Many of the state chapters have also created virtual events. These include Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. Save on travel and perhaps attend more than just one conference.


Author: Hannah Byrd Little

I’m a dedicated Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle, leveraging my background in higher education libraries to guide students through the crucial transition from school to college and beyond.

I am honored to have served as the AASL Chair for the Independent School Section in 2023 and am excited to begin my upcoming role as Director-At-Large for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) later this year, following my previous experience as a Member Guide in the AASL Emerging Leaders program. These appointments reflect my commitment to advancing library education and professional development on a national scale.

With experience in state-level leadership through the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL), including serving as TASL President in 2012, I bring a wealth of knowledge to my role. My educational background includes certifications as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, a Bachelor of Science in Communications (Advertising & Public Relations), a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (Education & Information Systems), and a Master’s in Library and Information Science.

Categories: Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

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