Hijacking FOMO for Your Online Course

What is FOMO? FOMO is an acronym that stands for Fear Of Missing Out. It describes the compulsion people feel to constantly check in with friends on social media to see if they’re missing anything good. FOMO cuts to the heart of modern behavior in a world full of distractions.

Those very distractions make it a challenge to teach online because teachers don’t have the captive audience they once had.

In a traditional classroom, students can still check their phones during class but it’s riskier because the teacher is right there in the room. For online students, no one is watching to see if they are letting their teacher’s 45 minute long lecture video play in the background while retweeting cat pictures or playing Candy Crush. A recent study proved that not only are lectures boring, they are also ineffective tools for learning.

Lectures are a non-social, broadcast medium struggling to survive in a social world. It should come as no surprise that the same students who live a FOMO-driven lifestyle aren’t as tempted to constantly check their online course to see what they’re missing.


“Wait!” you say, “I use discussion boards!”

As the explosive rise of YouTube and Instagram have shown us, people like to express themselves in many ways, not just text. It can be hard to communicate with text alone. Until we come up with a font for sarcasm, we will always be misunderstanding the written word. Tone of voice is important. Facial expressions are important. Most communication is non-verbal, which means that we communicate more information through our facial expressions, our pauses and our gestures than through the words we choose. You can’t gesture on a discussion board.

Instead of trying to compete with snapchat by recording long video lectures, why not create a VoiceThread and build a discussion around your lesson? Why not engage your students in a real conversation that they’ll be afraid to miss? VoiceThread helps make your class a living, breathing place where real communication happens all day long. You don’t want your students to miss out on your lessons and neither do we. Let’s hijack FOMO by making your online class more human.