Tips for Teaching via Video Conferencing

In terms of pedagogy there are a couple of obvious and not so obvious differences when teaching with video conferencing.  We have compiled some tips below:

 Logistics for before the first class

  • Become familiar with the equipment and learn to operate it without assistance. Even if a technical person is available for all of your class sessions, learning how to use the equipment will enable you to think of the best ways of using the available equipment.
  • Run a test session with the location or locations that will be connecting to your classroom so you are sure that the remote sites have the right setup. The most common setup problems involve lighting issues (too dark, washed out, glare), and microphone placement.
  • Compile the contact information for technical people at the remote location, just in case something goes wrong. Have the technical contact provide training to your remote students so they know how to use the equipment.
  • Prepare a videoconferencing etiquette summary for your students so they know not to tap their pens on the table, shuffle papers, place materials on top of the microphone, as well as when they should mute their microphones and how you would like them to interact with the rest of the class.
  • Have a backup plan in case the technology fails. A good option is dialing into a speakerphone at the remote location so you can continue your class without much of an interruption.
  • Until you become comfortable using the videoconferencing equipment, go to the classroom 10 minutes early.

Getting students ready for the video conferencing experience

  • Send your materials to students ahead of time by posting them to VIULearn or on a course website. Remote students should be told to check that space before coming to class and bring a copy of the materials with them, either on a laptop computer or by printing a paper copy.
  • If your remote students need a physical copy of a worksheet that you have changed at the last minute, you may be able to go through a staff assistant at the remote location to print and distribute copies. Make sure you have this arrangement worked out ahead of time.

Classroom protocols and fostering community

  • Let your students know the protocol for asking questions. Do you want them to interrupt you as you’re speaking (with a question or a raised hand) or will you allow certain times for questions?
  • Learn the names of your remote students and ask them discussion questions directly.
  • Give the remote students questions to ask in class to kick off a discussion or to periodically lead the class in the discussion of a particular reading or case study.
  • Let remote students mute their microphones and have their own course-related discussion. Some instructors dislike this practice, but it can help the remote student group form a support community.
  • Go out of your way to give remote participants an opportunity to present their views.
  • Small group discussion activities with a report-out time encourage students at all locations to discuss a topic and express their thoughts. They also give students a break from passively watching a presentation.

Adapted from: Gyorke, A. (n.d.). Faculty Guide to Teaching through Videoconferencing. Education Technology Services, Penn State University.