Arvorum Cultus Pecorumque. Caring for the (Digital) Fields and the Beasts.

‘Look after the (Digital) land, and it will look after You’

The Royal Agricultural University’s Latin motto is from Virgil’s Georgics. The recent move to online learning due to the impact of the global pandemic and with the implications for a potential future hybrid pedagogical model, could mean that we can conceptualise the possibility of care in a digital context.

For both SDAU and QAU, RAU teaching staff deliver 45-minute interactive sessions to approximately 150 students. An ongoing pedagogical challenge is to encourage as much interaction as possible. Often students are reluctant to turn their cameras on and unmute to speak during these sessions. It could be argued that students are ‘lurking’ in online envirnoments.

“Lurking is often seen as a problem in online education, particularly in fully online,

distance/distributed learning contexts”

Kuhn, Havemann, Kogeoglu & Bozkurt, 2021: p2

During an interactive session on Zoom, verbal communication is relied on for example if a student is delivering a presentation and sharing their screen. A majority of functions in Zoom are concerned with the development and practice of the verbal mode, for example mute/unmute. What if there was a different way to communicate that does not involve using the camera or microphone? This is where non-verbal feedback came in. Whilst meeting reactions have been used in the past, non-verbal feedback provides a new layer of communication and an opportunity to interact effectively.

Non-verbal Feedback Panel in Zoom

In October 2021, SDAU students were shown how to use non-verbal feedback and meeting reactions in Zoom. “…Meeting participants can place an icon in their video panel and beside their name in the participants panel to communicate with the host and other participants without disrupting the flow of the meeting. For example, selecting the Slow down icon places the icon in your video panel and beside your name to indicate you would like the host or presenter to go slower” (Zoom Video Communications, 2021).

Exploring Non-verbal Feedback

Providing students with an opportunity for non-verbal communication can help to provide the Lecturer with a confirmation that students are listening and/or have understood. Students can use non-verbal feedback as a way to build confidence in developing verbal feedback skills.

Perhaps non-verbal feedback is connected to dual coding:

“Human cognition is unique in that it has become specisalised for dealing simultaneously with language and non-verbal objects and events”

(Paivio, 1986 in Kirschner in Caviglioli, 2019

Exploring Zoom

Agile stationary was demonstrated to the students in the form of a deck of video conferencing cards. Showing the cards on the screen with the camera on can help with communication in a live meeting. I also suggested that students could create their own cards. This could enable students to create a personalised learning experience. It is also possible to suggest improvements and there is an Agile Games Workshop Meetup.

Exploring Agile Stationary

“We believe that physical products support embodied cognition without becoming distracting and provide the fastest feedback loop in the simplest possible setting” (Agile Stationery, 2021).

(Agile Stationery, 2021)

Having reflected on Zoom literacies as part of the #ukfechat here, the extent to which breakout rooms could improve student engagement in a blog post here and here, artifactual literacy has been explored (Pahl & Rowsell, 2010). How can we use found objects to improve the interactive experience of the Zoom sessions. When does an object become an artifact and vice versa?

“A found object is a natural or man-made object, or fragment of an object, that is found (or sometimes bought) by an artist and kept because of some intrinsic interest the artist sees in it”

(Tate Modern, n.d.).

What could students create in a Zoom session that could relate to agriculture? I explored the range of creative packs in a local shop.

Found Objects

A Microsoft Form was used to evaluate what students thought about non-verbal feedback, meeting reactions, agile stationary:

1. The majority of students thought that found objects improved engagement

2. The majority of students thought that non-verbal feedback tool and meeting reactions were a positive way to interact in the session?

3. For the question “How can the non-verbal feedback tool and meeting reactions be improved?” one answer was “The teacher can initiate a vote during the lecture and ask the students to answer. Through the data analysis, the students can grasp the situation and infer the points of doubt“,

4. For the question “How did the agile stationary help with interaction in the session?” one answer was “In some way, it can help teacher know about how much knowledge students has masterd,and adjust the process of class.”.


Agile Stationary (2021) Agil a Stationary (Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Caviglioli, O (2019) Dual Coding for Teachers (Woodbridge: John Catt Educational Ltd)

Kuhn H., C., Havemann, L., Koseoglu, S., & Bozkurt, A. (2021). Three lenses on lurking:
Making sense of digital silence. In J. Hoffman & P. Blessinger (Eds.), International
perspectives in online instruction (p. 83-93). Emerald Publishing Limited. (Online) Available at: [Accessed 3 November 2021]

Pahl, J & Rowsell J (2010) Artifactual Literacies: Every Object Tells a Story (Language and Literacy Series) (Amsterdam & New York: Teachers College Press)

Maro, P.V. (29 BCE). Virgil: Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid. Translated by H.R. Fairclough. Loeb Classical Library. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA. 1916.

Meetup LLC (2021) Agile Games Workshop Meetup in London (Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) Technology to Transgress. Spinoza, Energy & Expeditions of Joy. Exploring Critical Zoom Literacies with #ukfechat blog, [blog] 21 Oct. Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) Indiana Jones & the Breakout Tombs. Exploring Student Zoom Literacy blog, [blog] 9 Oct. Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Tate Modern (n.d.) Found Objects (Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Taylorson, L (2021) ukfechat curation: 30/09/2021 – Technology to Transgress: Critical Zoom Literacies hosted by @PipMac6 Wakelet Collection (Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

Zoom Video Communications (2021) Nonverbal feedback and meeting reactions(Online) Available at: [Accessed 26 October 2021]

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