Classroom discussions have gone silent. Students’ faces have been reduced to a mere profile picture on Blackboard Collaborate. Without sound or visuals, many teachers said they have become the only participants in their classes.

Biology teacher Angela Rizzo said her students’ unwillingness to participate in class has left her feeling like she is talking to herself.

“Students don’t feel comfortable participating,” Rizzo said. “They don’t want to turn on their microphones and cameras. I try to make jokes with my students, but there are less opportunities for warmth and humor.”

Sophomore Annika Taylor said she would much rather type out her messages to participate, as being put on the spot causes her stress and inhibits her thinking process.

“I don’t turn [my camera and microphone] on because I have anxiety, and it’s hard for me to communicate,” Taylor said. “I much prefer using the chat because it’s easier for me to say exactly what I mean.”

While Rizzo said she is aware of the circumstances surrounding online learning, she would appreciate students making a change to improve the new school environment.

“I don’t think there’s anything students can do to make online education easier,” Rizzo said. “But, I know that I would love having my students turn on their microphone to answer questions or use their cameras to interact.”