Videoconferencing is fairly old technology now. There have been a variety of expensive commercial systems available, but the system that most people may be familiar with is probably Skype™ by Microsoft. Since 2003 Skype™ has allowed people to see and talk with friends, relatives and colleagues using computers and eventually tablets and phones. The software allows us to talk with people and see them at the same time. Admittedly, it is not the same experience as an in-person conversation, but when we can’t be there in person, videoconferencing can be the next best thing. If you don’t want to get out of your pajamas, you can turn your video off 😉
For the purposes of teaching there are platforms with features that Skype doesn’t have. For basic video-chatting the platform may not matter, but when you want to be able to have student-learner interactions, a different platform can make the class run more smoothly.
One of these platforms is Zoom™. To take part in a Zoom™ session you will need the Zoom™ application and a free account on the Zoom™ website. The session host will send you an invitation to the meeting and you can join the meeting by clicking on the meeting link in the invitation a few minutes before the scheduled start of the meeting.
WindSong Training classes are structured so that students work with material after it is presented. This means that you will need some things to take part in a class using Zoom, including:
- a computer or tablet with access to the Internet. A computer is generally preferable because the screen is generally larger than that on a tablet.
- a webcam – this is often integrated into laptops and tablets
- a headset with microphone – this avoids echo that results when sound from the speakers goes back to other participants through your microphone
- any software that is to be discussed in the session.
If you are comfortable switching between application windows on your device, a single display can work fine, but having two monitors can make the session much easier for you. Arrangements such as the ones shown in Figure 1 are optimal.
Either a laptop with an additional monitor, or a desktop computer with two monitors allow learners to have the Zoom window with the instructor, other participants and any shared material on one display. The other display is for the partipants to work with the software – whatever it is that you are learning in the session.
Note that this configuration isn’t a requirement, but it does save you from switching between application windows throughout the session.
If you haven’t used a videoconferencing environment before it can seem a bit daunting, but it doesn’t take long before the interaction becomes very natural.