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7 things we learned about teaching and video-conferencing from Lance Ford

7 things we learned about teaching and video-conferencing from Lance Ford

Lance Ford is an educational technology advocate for Cisco. Lance has been helping us learn all about the video conferencing system and he was the first to introduce us to the whole video conferencing concept. Lance is dynamite and we are grateful to know him. Here are a few things we’ve learned.

For teaching, what’s a good group size?
Small, intimate groups work best because this tool is about interaction.

Use Blended methods of teaching and presenting.
You’re varying what’s going on all the time—discussion, smart-boarding, Moodle (online interactive learning tool and discussion threads). Use whatever works.

The person presenting will make or break the experience.
It’s a 3-sided environment which takes a special skill set. It’s a very conversational style, flexible. Get people into the conversation mode. Every 5 to 7 minutes vary what you’re doing. Pacing is paramount. If you’ve been talking for more than 3 to 4 minutes—you’re talking too much.

You have to draw people in because they can be deer in the headlights.
Then you have to keep on engaging them the whole time; keep them involved. At the very beginning, (use Moodle for this) find out who each student is, why he is there, and what he wants to accomplish. Keep notes and use that information later on to engage individuals. (So, blond girl in pink sweater is named Katie and wants to learn XYZ to improve XYZ). Then you can say—“Hey Katie—what do you think about…”

How long should these be?
For longer teaching—3 hours maximum with no breaks. Again, it’s all about pacing, you’re always doing something different. For movies, chunk information — 5 to 6 minutes maximum per movie.

Have a pre-call call or practice.
You need to work out your issues. Are you connected OK? Is the duo video working? Test the programs you want to share, test everything on your pre-flight checklist, every component, before the actual event because there are lots of potential pitfalls and land mines. To get used to things, right at first, it’s a good idea to work remotely with a small group.

Use a Smartboard or other similar devices.

  • Sympodium – like a Smartboard, but smaller which is good for tight spaces.
  • Tablet laptop that spins around and you can “write” on it.

Use these in all of your local presentations and talks—then you’ll be ready for the remote situations.

Start simple, not big. Then when you do go bigger, you’re ready.