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. With Governor Brown’s Stay at Home order in effect, 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.

I 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 in to 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.

I 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

I use equipment in a lab or studio to teach and will 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.

I worry my webcam/microphone won’t be good enough or work.

Standard hardware in computers of the past 5-7 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.

In my class I often co-teach with colleagues.

My house is a mess and everyone’s home. I 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.

This article was last updated on Nov 12, 2020 @ 3:52 pm.

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We'd love to hear from you. Full-service remote support is available to all PSU instructors through the Office of Academic Innovation. Contact the virtual Faculty Support Desk, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.

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