Faculty Interactions in Online Learning
As Baylor brings online programs to students across the country, we realize that teaching an online program comes with its own expertise. In a world full of distractions and a student population with their own expectations and needs, our goal is to provide you with the support you need to ensure that you and your students succeed. Below are a few immediate tips to consider when creating content or engaging with students.
Camera Angle and Video Quality:
Creating a welcoming classroom is just as important online as it is in person! As you pay attention to the background your students see as you teach class, also be aware of how YOU look to your students. Are you craning your neck to look up at the webcam? Are you looking down into the camera as if you are looking down on your students? The best outcome for you and your students would be to make sure your webcam is at eye level. You can accomplish this by moving your camera, desk, or chair, but spend some time creating the best angle for you and your students. Try to position yourself with a strong and consistent source of light behind the camera (not behind you!). This will illuminate your face for the camera.
Also, adjusting your webcam options can greatly improve your video quality! Navigate to your webcam’s ”tools” or “options” so you can play with the zoom, focus, and brightness to put you in your best light!
Always check your audio quality. You can do this by navigating to your microphone’s “tools” or “options”. Check to make sure your vocal sounds do not peak or go into the red zone. Watch for any buzz or hiss sounds. Remove any loud earrings that may click against the microphone. These loud sounds can be incredibly distracting to students. You can also adjust your tone using the microphone tools. Practice making those adjustments before class so your students can hear you clearly and smoothly. If you need additional equipment to make this happen, please reach out to us. We are here to help!
Everyone might have different opinions here, but most of all, your teaching background should reflect you. Have you ever sat in an online class that showed a wall of art behind the instructor that made you feel calm and focused? Or perhaps it was a bookshelf filled with a scholarly collection and mixed in bits of artifacts from past travels? It could have been a blank wall with an off-center photo that was too small for the large wall. You can make a big impact positively or negatively with the space behind you while teaching online. Take a moment to look behind you—determine if there is a reflection coming off the family photo that is distracting to your students. Does it look like your office plant is growing out of your head? Does your favorite race car tape dispenser need to be present on your credenza or can you tuck it away to minimize distractions? Ultimately, you want to create an online room where students do not mind spending an hour and a half of their time each night! Spend some time this week thinking of how you can create the best space possible for your teaching presence.
Actors often practice their lines in front of a mirror. Why? To monitor their facial expressions as they read lines. You are not acting, but you are very much on screen! Did you know you can watch your previously recorded class sessions? This might be THE BEST way to see how you look while teaching! To view your previously recorded lesson, click on meetings in the 2BU portal. Scroll down to “past meetings” and click the drop-down arrow next to the class session you would like to view. Take notes as you watch. Did you make a goofy face? Did you smile and seem friendly and approachable? Would you want to take a class with you as your professor? All great questions to ask yourself!
Have you ever sat next to a loud chewer, or a pen clicker? How did that make you feel? You may be completely unaware of the things you are doing while you teach that might be annoying to your students. This is another great reason to watch your previously recorded class sessions. Those super cute bracelets can make loud sounds as you move your mouse around to share your documents on screen. Consider losing the bracelets before class begins. If you type to take notes, those keyboard clicks are amplified onscreen. Consider using a journal or mute your sound instead. If you click your pen out of habit, put the pen down while you are conducting the class. Also, be aware that sounds like a sniffling nose or mouth smacks can be elevated in a small room. Blow your nose and drink plenty of water before you teach to lessen the chance of any of those sounds! Also, pay attention to sounds your computer may make! Be sure to close Facebook, email, and silence your phone or message notifications to create a distraction-free environment.