Stream Class Sessions Remotely

Here are tips for live streaming your class sessions. They may be especially useful if you’re new to remote teaching and/or streaming, or if you’ve very recently moved your class to remote.

In general, we recommend Zoom for your virtual classroom. It has a white board, screen sharing, and other functions for real-time meetings. If you’re worried streaming from off campus won’t work for you, consider our suggestions for accommodating unique classroom setups.

Some students may not have adequate technology or Internet access to meet regularly via Zoom. Let your students know that if they can’t attend live, they can watch a recording later and email comments. We recommend planning optional synchronous sessions with regular office hours held via Zoom, email, phone, or whatever mode works best for students.

Suggested Practices

Run a practice meeting.

  • Practice using the Zoom controls. Take a look at this Zoom Cheat Sheet for a quick reference.
  • Check whether you’re clearly visible within your camera’s field of view.
  • Avoid sitting with your back to a strong light source, such as a window. If possible, place lighting in front of you and above/behind the computer screen.
  • Check your meeting plan and try any tools and resources you plan to use in the session.

Then, at the start of your first session with students, make sure everyone can hear and see you.

Set expectations for remote participation.

Let students know your expectations about:

  • Whether to chat their comments/questions or chime in verbally.
  • Using the “Raise Hand” button in the “Participants” section to alert you to a question.
  • Chatting with peers during a session.
  • Keeping their audio and video muted until it’s time to talk — along with why and when you would use your ability to mute or unmute them.

Give specific instructions for using Zoom tools.

For example:

  • “I will present some slides. Please wait until I ask for questions before speaking.”
  • “If you have a question, use the ‘raise hand’ button so everyone can get their questions answered.”
  • “Following my comments, we will discuss the course material for today. If you have a comment, please make a note in chat so we can give you the floor.”
  • “Please mute your microphone when not speaking — and mute your microphone and video whenever you are away from the computer.”

Communicate the session’s goals.

Post the goals and/or outline of the session so students can stay on track.

  • Begin each session by briefly going over the agenda. You can do this by screen sharing a document or slide on your desktop.
  • Consider giving a quick Zoom Poll at the beginning of the session to gauge how students are doing or to ask a few low-risk questions about the topic of the day.

Structure your presentations.

  • If you plan to give a presentation, build in plenty of time for students to ask questions or respond.
  • Prepare students during an initial orientation or introductions. For example, during introductions students can practice muting, unmuting and using the “raise hand” function.

Wrap up your session.

As you might in a campus classroom, summarize the key points of the session and prepare students for what to do before the next session, leaving time for questions. We strongly recommend including this information in writing. It will assist remote students and save you time in answering questions.

Suggestions for Engaging Students

Consider polling.

Before the session, you might create a quick Google Form survey and send it to students via email with up to three questions about students’ experiences relevant to the topic, or their reaction to a portion of the reading. For example:

  • “What daily transportation challenges most impact you?”
  • “What do your readings suggest are the three most important research areas in transportation and supply logistics?”
  • “What supply logistic management issues do you see as most relevant to the Covid-19 situation?”

During the session, you can use Zoom Polling.

Incorporate students’ responses.

Students are often very interested in and learn much from how others respond. You can summarize, either in writing or verbally, what you learned from student polls. If possible, you might incorporate students’ responses as you move through related topics in the session.

If possible, share visuals.

Slides, websites, graphics or brief videos can illustrate and underscore the goals of your session, and can provide a springboard for discussion with students. Whenever possible, give students access to the files you’ll use during your remote session so they can review and reference as needed. You can share these before the session — or during, using Zoom’s Screen Share feature.

Try to keep it active.

You can engage students during live remote sessions by involving them in:

  • Testing or applying ideas
  • Generating examples
  • Reflecting on course activities

OAI’s Active Remote Learning Kit has more strategies for involving students in live streaming sessions.

Pro Tips

We’re all learning to work remotely. OAI staff have developed some tips to ease common challenges in streaming from home.

  • If you can, use a wired connection (not Wi-Fi) to your modem or router. If you can’t, set up your workspace close to it.
  • Ask others in your location to take a break from Internet use, or at least from Internet gaming, to ease the system load during your session.
  • Restart your computer before the session. This will clear the memory and help the computer run Zoom more efficiently.
  • Do a test session to try your camera, microphone, and any features you want to use.
  • If you experience glitches during the session, ask yourself, “How much will this impact class?” Little things may not be worth the worry.
  • “Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?” It’s surprising how often refreshing the page/stopping and restarting the screenshare/leaving and re-entering the meeting will fix things.
  • “Have you tried unplugging and plugging it back in?” Likewise, you can often clear up an errant headphone connection or video signal by reseating the cable!

If glitches happen…

You and your students are embarking on a new experience together, and they will be forgiving. Develop a backup plan just in case things go awry. For example, you could:

  • Temporarily phone into your class until you restart your computer and get back on Wi-Fi.
  • Move to a backup discussion tool if something in Zoom does not work.

Student feedback data shows that audio is key to student understanding and participation. Audio backup is a must.

Most of all, be kind to yourself! Your first face-to-face teaching session probably wasn’t perfect either.


You Don’t Need to Record in a Classroom!

As the campus pivots to remote teaching due to COVID-19, you may be wondering how you can conduct many of your regular class lecture activities without a classroom. Zoom and other technologies can accommodate many teaching practices and use cases.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to seek a non-campus based solution wherever possible. If your concerns are not addressed in the following suggestions, please contact the OAI Faculty Support desk to discuss further.

You teach with a whiteboard or document camera.

There are several great options for this:

  • Zoom has a robust annotation feature that can be used on virtual documents or the virtual whiteboard.
    • If you do not have a touch screen and find it difficult to write with a mouse, pen tablets like those from Wacom can also be used.
    • You can also run Zoom on a tablet and record annotation directly. This option may not be practical to record yourself with the camera at the same time.
  • Document cameras can be plugged into your computer via USB and used as a second camera in Zoom or Kaltura Capture. Using it in Zoom you will be able to switch between the document camera and a shared screen in similar fashion to using a podium. If you are in need of a document camera, the PSU library has a limited number available for check out.
  • Zoom has built in support for screen sharing an iOS device via cable or AirPlay, which you can use in conjunction with a free whiteboard app like LiveBoard.

You don’t have a stable internet connection.

There is a lot of anxiety around running programs like Zoom with lots of participants’ home wifi connections. Our advice is to take stock of what your internet can do, and make plans from there. Are you able to:

  • Watch streaming videos on YouTube with multiple devices at once? Watch multiple YouTube videos on the same device at the same time?
  • Do you have access to a physical network connection to your modem? This will be a stronger signal than wifi.
  • Are you able to download and upload large files into a cloud storage center like Google Drive or a media storage space like Mediaspace or YouTube?
  • Is your internet connection available reliably or is it something that needs special arrangements or a costly additional data plan?

Consider that there is no one way to teach remotely. If you have a reliable signal at home that seems too slow to leverage Zoom there are many other tools you can use to teach that offer amazing pedagogical value. If you can upload large files and want video, consider using a tool like Kaltura Capture to pre-record content for your students and offer a discussion session on Zoom you can dial into with audio if you still want a synchronous component

You use equipment in a lab or studio to teach and do not have access to these at home.

Normally when you create a class that will be offered at a distance, we have time to find or build solutions — unfortunately, this is not the current situation. We cannot aim for perfection; we have to look for creative alternatives, knowing that we don’t have the time or technology to design the way we would prefer. This quarter is somewhat of a shared experiment: we are not going to be able to recreate everything we would normally do.

The global education community has come up with some amazing experiences for students online in situations like this. Contact OAI to set up a meeting with one of our Instructional Designers to look at potential solutions.

You worry your webcam/microphone won’t be good enough.

Standard hardware in computers of the past five to seven years is pretty great and should be able to handle basic streaming and video and audio recording. The things that really hurt audio and video quality are a few basic considerations when setting up:

  • Avoid having a bright light/window behind you.
  • Set your computer up so the webcam is almost at eye height with you. If you have a laptop without a stand, stacked books are an easy fix.
  • If possible, invest in a headset/headphones with a built in mic. Cheap bluetooth ones sell for around $8 and even they will assist you with a better audio quality by keeping your microphone at relatively the same distance from your face throughout the course of your session. Using headphones will also help prevent echoing and feedback during class.
  • Remember to practice! Zoom has a test session available at https://zoom.us/test you can use at any time to make sure your equipment is in good working order.
  • PSU Library has a limited supply of laptops and other equipment available for check out, if your equipment cannot accommodate recordings.

You often co-teach with colleagues.

Your house is a mess and everyone’s home. You have no space to record!

Again, remember you do not have to create video or web conferences to create a successful remote session! If you still want a multimedia feature, why not try your hand at an audio recording? Or, if you have headphones with a microphone, take a stroll around the block with your cell phone and create a pre-recorded lecture. Take your laptop to a park and use Kaltura Capture, just remember that headset! Good audio is the most critical component of video: Viewers will tolerate hard to see/bad video, but we do not typically have the same patience for poor audio.


DIY Media Tips

OAI offers support around integrated and dynamic media for the classroom. Well-conceived and carefully integrated multimedia can help students understand complex topics, enhance student engagement, and support visual learning. Creating and implementing media doesn’t need to be overly complex. Here are some quick tips to help you make multimedia that shines.

Create Maps and Charts to Visualize Data

Promote critical thinking by asking students to create visuals for their research — such as maps, charts, or timelines. Creating data visualizations requires different skills than writing reports or research papers.

Add Digital Q and A to a Lecture

Want to encourage more engagement and interaction from students during your course lectures? If you use Google Slides as a presentation format, you can use the Audience Tools feature. Students can ask questions live, with an option to do so anonymously, and vote for questions from other students. You can monitor questions and pull the top-voted ones into your live lecture as a slide.

Make Videos with Your Own Device

PSU faculty are making their own videos to record lectures, introductions, updates, feedback on assignments, and additional information on an assignment within course content.

Everyone at PSU has access to a built-in recording tool in Media Space: Kaltura Capture. Use it to record yourself with a webcam, record what’s on your screen, a combination of both, or audio only. After you finish recording, you can make simple edits to your video such as trimming the beginning and end, or chopping out an unwanted section. If you forget to edit before uploading to Media Space, fear not: You can also do simple edits in Media Space after uploading. For videos you’ll reuse in multiple courses, remember to request captioning through OAI.

As you plan your video, consider these tips to ensure high quality:

  • Set your camera. Make sure your webcam is eye-level. You may need to raise your laptop on top of a few books, but this angle will be more flattering! Also, place your camera an arms length away from your face. It shouldn’t be too close or too far away!
  • Scout your location. Assess your location to ensure it isn’t distracting. The visual background shouldn’t be busy and background noise should be minimal. Your background sets the stage for your video’s brand or theme; think about what you want it to say about you. It should be clean and professional. Faculty often choose to film in an office setting, but showing a more personal setting such as a tidy living room, or a working environment such as a laboratory, can also work.
  • Create flattering lighting. Set yourself up so you are lit from the front or side. The worst thing you can do is have your back to a window, with your camera facing the window. The best thing you can do is have a lamp beside your computer, at eye level. A lamp is better than overhead lights because overhead lighting can create unflattering and distracting shadows. Don’t be afraid to move lamps around your space to achieve optimal lighting.
  • Mic up. Use an external microphone. It will almost always be better than your device’s built-in microphone and will pick up less ambient noise. A headset works well, but you can also use the mic on your earbuds.
  • Dress the part. Small patterns such as thin stripes or polka dots can strobe or appear to move on camera. Avoid large jewelry that may sparkle in the light, or jewelry that rattles or clanks such as multiple bracelets or long necklaces. You can test your wardrobe through a short test video to see how it works on camera.

Note: Don’t make a video just to make a video! It should add value to your course. If your students can find the same information in other course content, there’s no point making them watch it in a video.

Make Interactive Videos

Interactive video can help students identify misconceptions or practice applying concepts. You can easily build an interactive question-and-answer function into any video uploaded to Media Space. The Video Quiz tool allows you to add embedded multiple choice and true/false questions.

Video quizzes generally don’t integrate with grading systems, so they are best used for guided self-study. Adding a quiz is one way to segment video to help students retain the information, by giving them a chance to participate.

Note: Assessment reporting for Media Space video quizzes is disabled by ad-blocking browser extensions. This results in anonymous quiz responses. If you plan to assess your video quiz, give students instructions to open it in an “incognito” or private window. This will not activate the ad-blocker and will allow you to see results by student.

Learn More Elsewhere


Create Engaging Videos

A well-made video can be a powerful tool for teaching and learning.

  • Instructor-made videos can help online students feel more like they are attending class face-to-face.
  • By presenting information differently than textbooks, videos can add information or reflection that the text does not.
  • Videos can give students more control of their learning by allowing them to watch at their own pace, pause if they need a break, and rewatch for review.

Pan et al. (2012) found that students responded favorably to instructor-created videos and thought the videos supported their learning.

Reasons to Make a Video

  • To welcome. A welcome video helps students get to know you and better understand what to expect. When you make a welcome video, feel free to share your hobbies, photos of your pets, and your background. Don’t worry too much about speaking slowly; focus on conveying enthusiasm. Students can pause and replay if they need to. Your welcome video — like all your videos — should be brief.
  • To show, not tell. Consider using video to show a demonstration or experiment. Break away from the standard lecture video by conducting an experiment or demonstration on camera. This allows viewers to learn while watching, rather than listen to an explanation. Another option: Conduct an interview, perhaps with an expert in the field.
  • To interact. Use the video quiz tool in Media Space to create an engaging video that requires participation through embedded questions. This allows students to interact with the content and helps them gauge their knowledge of the material.

Production Tips to Stay Engaging

  • Plan before production. To make a brief but compelling video, you’ll have to do some planning. Write a script with the information you would like to share, and practice in the mirror. This will give you an idea of how long your video will be and what information may not be necessary. Outline the flow of your video, especially if you’ll include more than one visual.
  • Keep it short. While an hour-long lecture might work in a face-to-face classroom, a recording of the same lecture is not likely to keep students engaged online. Engagement time drops as video length increases. Students are more likely to watch short videos in their entirety. Guo et al. (2014) found that six minutes or less is ideal.
  • Don’t give your in-person lecture. Instead, if your video is expected to be long, find natural breaking points in your script where you can cut it into multiple videos. Each video will be a subtopic. This concept is called “chunking” — cutting large amounts of information into smaller pieces, making it easier for the viewer to process.
  • State your objectives. Tell your audience why they should keep watching. Within the first 10 seconds, viewers should know what they will get out of watching the video. Consider an outcome statement or a summary of the topics you’ll cover.
  • Remember cognitive load theory. Mayer and Moreno (2003) found that working memory can hold only five to nine items at a time. Avoid overloading with activities and information that don’t contribute to learning. Eliminate tangential or extraneous elements to keep the video concise and coherent.

Getting Started

Now that you’ve read through these tips, it’s time to follow a plan.

  1. Identify the purpose of your video and align it with your instructional goals.
  2. Write a script — and practice reading it.
  3. Create an outline of the video, and decide on any visuals.
  4. If you plan to use OAI’s Media Labs, schedule your recording in advance.
  5. After recording your video, review it to make sure it meets your instructional goals. Don’t be afraid to re-record.

References

Guo, P., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. Proceedings of the first ACM conference on learning, 41-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2556325.2566239.

Mayer, R. & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43–52. http://stats.lib.pdx.edu/proxy.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=9110440&site=ehost-live

Pan, G., et al. (2012). Instructor-made videos as a learner scaffolding tool. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 8(4). http://jolt.merlot.org/vol8no4/pan_1212.htm