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Pandemic TEACHING PT 2

Into the second week of teaching and the configuration and setup has changed –

The laptop has gone from an 8yo to new one and the monitor has been upgraded to a 28inch 4K monitor. Being able to see 50 students on the screen at a single point in time is hugely valuable during discussions.

The webcam on the new laptop is clearly better. I want to use the monitor as primary screen while teaching so I’ve been looking at options and configurations. There is a lovely piece on by Guy Kawasaki on how to get your setup just right. As I’m not looking to spend another €2K right now I haven’t gone down this route. I’ve gone for the reasonably standard Logitech C920s.

I considered a number of other options. I played with a paid version of EpocCam both on Wifi and with a wired connection and really wasn’t happy with the quality of the results. The results that come through on the laptop and Zoom are nothing like what you see on the primary camera on the phone. I looked at using my Fujifilm camera but it isn’t in the list of supported models. And it could take quite a while to test workarounds and see if I could get it to work. Time better spent elsewhere. Between installing and optimising a mesh network in the house and cleaning up multiple devices I’ve had enough hardware fun for 2021

GoPro was another option which a friend is using with some success and I’d like to compare the Logitech with GoPro at some point in the future. For now the Logitech will do (once it arrives). I’ll look at some mic options next but the broad setup is nearly there.

Right now looking at improving the teaching and learning process. Once I carve out some time I’m going to do some short pre-record videos. I’ve written up one class example on the strategy cycle.

The one thing I’m trying to get slicker on is switching and screen recording. I’m looking for a very simple way to slice up my classes into smaller bites and the transcription of lectures in Zoom is fairly impressive. Right now Zoom does some odd things as I turn Screen sharing off and on. It flips the screens for display/presenter view which is a minor annoyance but I’d like a way to press a single key to switch between screens I’m displaying.

Logging in as a second user on the iPad has turned out to have two advantages – the availability of using the whiteboard and also seeing the student view of my class though I have to turn the sound down to prevent echo.

Ongoing challenges I’m not quite sure how to solve or if they are solvable – talking, keeping an eye on 50+ students and an eye on chat. In a physical classroom you get a sense of a class, bored, restless, not understanding. Theres a lot more work to do to get that sense when teaching online. There are some broader pedagogical questions to explore here as well that I’m thinking about and I’m mapping out that goes from education to entertainment crosses universities, teaching and training and into events and conferences as well. But that’s for a longer post.

Whats also valuable is a number of conversations with students studying other courses and lecturers teaching across other institutions and its something I really interested to do more of. Talk to more people to figure out good practices that will improve everyones experience.

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