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Keep it simple: top tips

Sound and vision

Above all else, if you are delivering live lessons, then getting your sound set up correctly is essential. To avoid common issues of echo, ensure everyone has their microphone muted except for whoever is speaking. As the teacher, your speakers should have their volume low, or you should wear earphones, as it is likely your microphone will be on all the time. Sometimes mobile phones have better in-built microphones than laptops, so it is worth experimenting with a colleague or family member beforehand.

If you are using your webcam, then make sure there are no personal items around you that you would not want to share with your students! Position your webcam so that you are well-lit and raise it up, if possible, to eye level.

Hand-written content

In some cases, annotating printed materials or writing content by hand (for example a diagram) may be useful to control the pace of learning or to build up a bigger picture. This can be done either using a webcam or mobile phone fixed above a flat surface on which you can write, or positioned where you can write on a wall. You will need to use a thick pen to make your writing visible as webcam and live streaming quality is rarely good enough to pick up ball-point pen.

Screen-sharing

In most cases, if you do wish to demonstrate something on your computer, it may be best to record as a video and share via your school or college learning platform or file sharing system instead. If you are sharing your screen, note:

  • To ensure that no personal data will be visible to your students. Close all other applications, hide icons on your desktop and have the files you need for the lesson already open so you are not browsing files on screen.
  • Screen sharing is higher in bandwidth, which may impact a shared internet connection or consume mobile data allowance.
  • Animations or simulations appear to stutter due to reduced ‘frame rate’.
  • Similarly, playing videos on your computer will not be streamed effectively and video sound may not be streamed to your students.

Live demonstrations

If you still have access to your school or college, you may consider live demonstrations. However, during a demonstration you will not be able to monitor the activity of participants in your live lesson as easily. You may also need to reposition your camera to show any detail in your demonstration, pause for questions and respond to issues arising. These may all distract you from completing a demonstration safely and effectively for learning. Pre-recording, or using a video already available online, may save you time and allow you to use the synchronous time more effectively.

Top tips and great examples

Whether you are considering live lessons, or recording a video to be used as part of an asynchronous activity, share your top tips or links to great examples of educational videos you have found in the comments below.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching for Home Learning: Secondary Science

National STEM Learning Centre