The purpose of this quick start guide is to help you sort through some of the technical logistics of teaching online. This guide covers hardware recommendations, setting up the ideal recording environment, assessing your internet speed, and running an online class session. More detailed instructions, buying recommendations and other relevant info are linked throughout the guide.
Before we dive in, let’s take a moment and make sure you have all the tools you’ll need for the job. At minimum you will need a computer, a camera, and a microphone. There is more gear that might be relevant to you, but we’ll address that later.
If you’ve had your computer for 5 years or less, it will most likely be able to handle most video conferencing software. Take a moment to consider the following system requirements for Zoom (Mac or Windows):
More Info: https://bit.ly/382O2hI
If your computer is a laptop with a built-in webcam, this will most likely be the simplest option for you. When it comes to cameras, bigger is not necessarily better, especially as technology continues to shrink down.
If you need to purchase a webcam, please consider something that would be capable of recording at HD resolution (1080p).
Suggested Camera: https://amzn.to/2ZfIRH4
For your convenience you might be tempted to use your built-in microphone. Please don’t. Due to the proximity of the built-in mic to the noise transmitting parts of you computer (fans, hard drives, electric signals), the audio quality will suffer. For this reason we STRONGLY recommend using an external microphone. It will even make you look better (user experience may vary)! If you do not have something that will work yet, below are a couple of recommendations.
If you don’t mind being tethered to your computer, and want something simple that will just work.
Suggested Wired Mic: https://amzn.to/2NB7pF2
Suggested Wired Headset W/ Mic: https://amzn.to/2ZcmlPx
Enjoy unrestricted movement as you teach! But be mindful of potential connectivity issues depending on bluetooth strength or signal interference. Also remember to keep it charged before class.
Suggested Wireless Headset: https://amzn.to/31i26Te
Great! Now that we have a working computer, camera and microphone, let’s talk about the ideal recording setup.
Hopefully you know a quiet space, free from distracting noises, pets or people. Keep this in mind when recording (or presenting on live tv). Is there a door or window that could be closed? Is the dryer running in the next room? Is your phone on silent? Is There a fan blowing directly at your microphone? By limiting background noise you can greatly increase the quality of your recordings.
So your room is quiet now. Great! But what does it look like? By keeping your recording background tidy, and free from visual clutter, you will help your students remain focused on what they are learning. They hopefully won’t be able to see your dog’s mournful, accusatory stare, just outside your office window.
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There are a few options for positioning your camera to eye height:
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Suggested Camera Arm: https://amzn.to/3dCQAnK
Suggested Selfi Tripod: https://amzn.to/2YCJiw0
If you plan to teach over Zoom (not pre-recorded and uploaded), you should have a high speed internet connection with at least a download/upload speed of 20Mbps. Although you could get by with lower speeds, we want to offer students the highest quality stream possible. You can check your connection speed at speedtest.net. Keep in mind that other people or devices on your network will can impact your speed test. If you do not have a high enough bandwidth, you might want to ask members of your household not to stream or download during your recordings as this could negatively impact the stability of your Zoom meeting.
Let’s go through the software and systems you will using as you run your class.
You should be aware that as of June 15, 2020, TWU has shifted away from MyCourses as our learning management system (LMS). Now we are using Moodle. There is great training available on Moodle which you can find as a part of the Online Learning On-Ramp.
For instructions on downloading, signing in and using Zoom, click here. There are a few great video tutorials that should answer most of your questions.
The following brief video explains the recording process, as well as where to find your files once your session is over. https://bit.ly/38b3w3h
Ensure that you hit the record button at the beginning of your teaching time (lower right hand corner of the Zoom user interface).
Once your Zoom session is over, you will need to upload your Zoom recordings to Microsoft Stream.
By now you should feel equipped with an understanding of the hardware, setup and systems required to run your classroom virtually. Should you need any assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.