Whether you use Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams for online class meetings there are some universal things that you can do to make the experience better for you and your students. The following five tips for live online instruction are an excerpt from my recently published 2020-21 Practical Ed Tech Handbook.
Elevate your camera and plug in a mic:
Besides the obvious, “no one wants to look up your nose” reason, elevating your webcam makes it easier for students to see your eyes during a live meeting. And you should keep your webcam on because students want to see you and make a connection with you and not just your voice whenever it is possible.
If you have one, use an external microphone for your live classes in Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. Using an external microphone, especially one with a USB connection will improve the quality of your audio. Even pairing Bluetooth earbuds to your computer can improve the audio quality of your online meeting.
If you’re looking to purchase an external microphone, for years I’ve used and recommended the Snowball iCE microphones made by Blue. For those who would prefer not to have another thing on their desks or are looking for a microphone that works with smartphones, try this lapel microphone.
Share an outline:
Just like you would put a daily agenda on the board in your physical classroom, share an agenda with your students at the start of each online class meeting. It gives students a sense of what to expect during the class and how the meeting will last. Don’t forget to give kids a break during the meeting if you’re going to have them on for more than twenty or thirty minutes.
Kids want something to do during a class meeting besides just listening to you drone on. Consider assigning roles like meeting secretary, fact-checker, or even co-moderator in your online meetings.
Silence is okay:
It’s natural to want to fill every moment of an online class meeting with your voice or your students’ voices. You don’t have to do that. You can give students a task to work on during the meeting then just leave your webcam on and the call going to support them if they have questions while working on the task. Zoom’s breakout rooms function can be useful for this kind of meeting structure.
If you plan to record a meeting, let your students and their parents know at the outset of the class.