I’ve had students attend programmes online in parallel with classroom sessions for many years, so making the complete switch has not been too traumatic. However, if you are new to teaching programmes with any amount of rigorous technical content in front of a camera rather than a class then I would like to share with you a few pointers to what our students say works best.
One thing that I learned very early on is that there is no point in trying to do things on a budget. You need to invest in really good equipment so that your students have the best experience. That way you can use much of your tried and tested material whether it is in the form of spreadsheets or whiteboard explanations.
- Delegate all of the techie stuff during a teaching session
This is crucial, you are the teacher and your job is to engage and educate your students not to do IT support. So make sure that you have a really good production team who are able to do the camera work and address questions from delegates that relate to connectivity and other technical issues.
- Get your team to do an audio and sound equipment test with each delegate before the class
A wired connection is still better than wifi despite recent improvements in the latter. Advise delegates to use a large monitor and headset for the best experience. Make sure that nobody is trying to addend by using a phone or iPad!
- Insist on delegates keeping their video on at all times during the class
Learning comes from two way communication between student and teacher and if you can’t see your class they can’t learn from you effectively.
- Try to use your existing classroom material as much as possible
This is material that you know works and has been well tried and tested. However, to do this you will need your on-line teaching room to be properly equipped with a good old fashioned whiteboard and flip-chart etc. as well as good quality sound and video equipment
- Reduce barriers to good and frequent two way interactions
You need to be heard by the students without difficulty so use a good wireless microphone and you will be able to move around the classroom, write on whiteboard and flip-chart etc without loss of sound quality. You need to hear them well also so make sure that you teaching space is equipped with good speakers.
You want students to see exactly what you are doing on the board and flip chart as well as to see your slides so use at least one camera with PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) features and have it controlled by your production team so that the delegates always get the optimal view of you and your examples. That way you can use most of your classroom material.
Have the delegates displayed on a very large screen in your teaching room so you can see all of them at once and interact with each one just as you would in the physical classroom.
Position the main camera correctly in relation to the screen. You need to be looking directly at people when you talk to them if you want to engage them properly.