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Digital burnout. It’s a term dominating cultural conversations in workplaces and homes around the world.

Workers’ stress is at an all time high, according to analytics firm Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace report. You don’t have to look far to see that educators are no exception – almost 60% of teachers are considering making an early exit from the profession, according to researchers at La Trobe University.

What’s fuelling this burnout?

Our digital habits, according to Dr Kristy Goodwin, one of Australia’s leading digital wellbeing experts:

“Our digital behaviours and habits are fuelling burnout, as they’re adding micro-stressors to our days and they’re also displacing some of the biological buffers that once helped us to manage stress.”

Dr Kristy Goodwin

What is digital burnout?

Now officially recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a medical diagnosis, “burnout” is included in the International Classification of Diseases as “a syndrome conceptualized resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

In other words, it indicates a state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion caused by chronic and excessive stress. Some of the key predictors of burnout include an unsustainable workload and the feeling that you don’t have control over your life and work.

Digital burnout is defined by Dr Kristy Goodwin as “a more specific type of burnout caused by prolonged or excessive use of digital devices. We’re using digital technologies in ways that are incongruent with our biological blueprint.”

It manifests as feelings of fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity from a prolonged or inappropriate use of workplace digital technologies.

A growing threat for teachers

To effectively address digital burnout, we need to treat the cause not the symptom. So what’s behind the rise of digital burnout in schools?

Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic had a big role to play. Educators and school leaders embraced a raft of digital changes in a very short period of time. The digital intensity of teachers’ days skyrocketed as they suddenly needed to deliver lessons online and rely on tech tools to communicate with the school community. With the repeated closing and reopening of schools, teachers carried the burden of rapidly upskilling in digital literacy, while worrying about the engagement, motivation, and well-being of their students.

And the impact of all this on teacher wellbeing?

Feelings of overwhelm, fatigue, anxiousness, and burnout have continued to plague teacher wellbeing and damage their motivation, engagement and productivity.

But it’s not only the pandemic that causes digital burnout. Many school leaders are looking to implement new software and devices with the good intention to increase efficiency and facilitate learning. However, the rollout of tech can sometimes be too swift. Teachers receive little or no time to familiarise themselves and get to the level of proficiency required to effectively integrate the technology into their workday – both in and out of the classroom.

The solution to digital burnout is…technology

There’s a dual responsibility for managing burnout, school leaders have to ensure manageable workloads (and effective use of ICTs to support the teaching and administration) and employees have to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to beat burnout.

One of the solutions to digital burnout can be found in technology.

Surprised?

As Dr Kristy Goodwin explains, the technology itself is not the cause of digital burnout. Technology can empower or enslave us – it’s the intent with which we use it that makes the difference.

Findings from the Teaching and Learning International Survey indicate that globally, high levels of administrative work are a notable source of stress for teachers, more so than long hours teaching in the classroom.

The right school software solutions used in the proper ways can help improve workflows and create efficiencies that reduce admin for teachers and give them more time and support to do what they love – teaching students.

Take a look at some of the ways the leading teaching and learning management system, SEQTA, can help improve school wellbeing:

  • Reduce teacher admin time: Teachers can use tools to create and assign lesson plans and assessments, and save time on admin.
  • Continuous reporting: Teachers can easily provide timely and targeted feedback to students, and make that feedback visible to parents and carers, helping improve visibility and enable teachers to create a more personalised learning journey.
  • Access to data insights: Leaders have effortless access to data, analytics and insights to identify trends and improve decision making.

Learn how to beat digital burnout

Reduce the threat of digital burnout in your school with science-backed strategies from Dr Kristy Goodwin. Join our Virtual Masterclass ‘Beat Digital Burnout’ on Wednesday 17 August at 4pm AEST.

Designed specifically for school leaders, you’ll learn:

  • How our digital habits are fuelling our stress
  • Why rest is vital for our performance
  • The micro-habits that teachers and school leaders can embed into their workdays
  • The digital cultures that can counteract digital burnout
  • How using the right technology can combat digital burnout.
REGISTER FOR FREE HERE