|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 39-40
Lecturers' vocal fatigue and online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus
|Date of Submission||24-Mar-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||09-Jul-2021|
|Date of Web Publication||12-Apr-2022|
Tasou Isaak 3, Alethriko, Larnaca 7570
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Kkese E. Lecturers' vocal fatigue and online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. J Laryngol Voice 2021;11:39-40
Lecturers' voice problems have been investigated in previous studies with research suggesting that most of them experience short- or long-term voice problems during some time in their lifetime. Excessive tissue vibration or repeated vocal fold posturing can result in overused or under-recovered voice that gives rise to vocal fatigue., Symptoms may include lecturers losing part of their pitch range; also, loss of voice, hoarseness, a tired or scratchy throat, soreness, and muscle pain in the neck or larynx. This condition occurs when lecturers use their voice to teach, discipline, or manage students for long hours without a break.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced universities to adapt quickly to online education. Lecturers are asked to adjust to the new learning environment, which may in fact be a source of anxiety for them. Anxiety may be characterized by a need to be louder, a need to fill silences (resulting in talking more than required), and/or a need to speak at a faster pace. Vocal fatigue may, as a result, stem from lecturers' anxiety. However, anxiety could be controlled to some extent when lecturers adapt a more kinesthetic approach; this suggests that they should not merely face the camera but use the entire space the camera picks up. Besides anxiety, lecturers may talk louder when they feel that the students cannot hear or understand them. This indicates that instead of focusing on clarity of speech, they emphasize on loudness. A further factor may involve microphones; when both lecturer and students have their microphones unmuted, a noisy background is created, where the lecturer feels s/he needs to cut in vocally. In these cases, using more visual cues and gestures such as the 'raise hand' feature may be more useful.
We suggest that vocal fatigue could be prevented by improving the clarity of the delivery; this could also improve students' understanding. Clarity of delivery could include an emphasis on the choice and use of words and phrases in speech as well as on consonants, frequent pauses, and slower pace. Our final claim is that lecturers should make sure that breathing supports voice as in intercostal diaphragmatic breathing (or deep breathing). In this case, breathing uses the diaphragm, which is a muscle under the lungs, to pull air into the lungs. This type of breathing helps voice quality and releases tension. Shallow breathing, on the other hand, is breathing with the chest using muscles to expand the lungs and involves taking in less air while the voice is more constricted. In this case, breathing affects tone and voice resonance and interferes with students' learning process.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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