Video Conference Tips for Success
Facilitating a VC course and connecting with distance students can present some challenges. If teaching a VC course is new for you, we hope these tips help you create engaging courses and positive student experiences across locations.
Implementing just a few best practices for video conferencing can help you create an engaging and positive student experience. The following best practices were contributed by Dr. Tom Tripp, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Carson Business College, and Co-Chair of the Academic Video Conferencing Task Force. The tips and strategies are based on data collected by the task force from VC instructors and student evaluations.
Student Engagement and Interaction
Student engagement and interaction are critical parts of learning. Below are some suggestions to accomplish both in a VC environment.
- Provide digital copies of all course materials (e.g. handouts, in-class readings, etc.) through the course LMS in advance of the class meeting.
- Create small groups that include students from each site. Students can collaborate and interact both synchronously and asynchronously, regardless of location, through tools like:
- Office 365 Shared Documents
- Canvas Chat and Collaborations
- Perusall (for in-class reading)
- Allow all learners to have an equal amount of time to respond to questions by using quick response tools like Microsoft Forms.
- Create a backchannel for students to submit questions using tools like Canvas Discussion or Microsoft Teams. Questions can be addressed during or after class.
- Build rapport with your remote students by getting to know their names and voices, and be sure to call on them regularly.
For specific activities and strategies visit the LI Student Engagement Strategies page.
- Attend a VC training (please visit the training schedule).
- Virtually visit the room beforehand on our room specification pages
- Know how your podium works, including video conferencing and A/V equipment.
- Get a feel for the classroom setup and technology.
- This is the best time to test out the available camera angles and to practice staying in frame.
- Note that cameras, lighting, screen resolution, screen size, screen dimensions, and monitor color settings affect the visual element of your communication.
- Likewise, microphone placement, volume, sensitivity, speakers, bit rate, and Internet traffic affect the audio elements.
- Do a test run of your presentation prior to the first day.
- Differences in formatting and fonts created on the Mac version of Office may not appear the same on our Windows version.
- Make text visible, at least 24 point font.
- Sans Serif fonts (e.g. Ariel, Verdana) are advisable.
- If possible, travel to the other sites within the first 2 weeks of the semester.
- This allows you to meet your distance students in person and experience what they see during your class.
- Please alert your local site coordinator of any class cancellations or site visits.
- Remember to speak to and include all video conference sites when addressing the students.
- When asking questions, consider the audio delay that remote students experience and allow extra time for students to respond.
- Implement a hand-raising policy at the in-person site, and have remote students speak when they have questions. This prevents local students from dominating the conversation due to the audio delay that remote students experience.
- If the remote site is muted, allow time for students to unmute.
- Ensure all content is visible and accessible to all learners.
- Provide access to presentation/slides prior to class. Ensure this material does not contain spoiler information or answers to discussion questions which will decrease learning effectiveness. Providing slides allows students to prepare and think about the topics that will be covered in class ahead of time.
- Use annotation technology like touchscreen laptop, tablet, or an annotation monitor instead of whiteboards. Doing so will allow students at a distance to see your writing, as classroom cameras do not pick up writing on whiteboards well.
- Additionally, instead of pointing by hand, try using the above annotation technologies or the annotation features on Zoom and PowerPoint to call attention to important materials/content, as distance students might have a hard time seeing you point physically by hand or with a laser pointer.
- As an added benefit to students, you can provide access to the content prior to or during the class on the LMS.
- Be aware of the camera angles and stay in frame. This allows for a close-up camera angle, rather than one that is zoomed out, providing a more personal connection for remote students.
- Be conscious that your body movement, hand gestures, expressions, voice modulations, clothing, and jewelry may be perceived differently on distant sites, on a monitor.
- Mimic the in-person experience by looking into the camera when speaking to remote students. Doing so is more personable and allows for a feeling of connection.
- This is much easier when the camera is placed on top of the monitor instead of off to the side. (If the camera is off to the side, be sure to look into the camera, not at the monitor screen.)
Learn from Experienced Faculty
Take advantage of supplementary tools such as Canvas to…keep [students engaged] between class periods. I find the lines between teaching modalities are blurring rapidly these days.
—Mark Beattie, WSU Everett
There’s no substitute for preparation.
—Mark Beattie, WSU Everett
[Visiting a site] allows me to engage in a more human capacity…The more human connection that you are able to make with your students is really going to set the tone for the rest of the class and beyond.
—Mark Beattie, WSU Everett