Lights, Camera, Lesson! A best practice guide to home online lesson equipment

Holding an online lesson or webinar? Participating in one? Every online participant has a unique online learning environment. Their hardware, software and environment can vary dramatically, which is why it is necessary to lay down a few essentials to get the most out of the online learning experience. Not only does the personal experience suffer of those with a less than adequate setup, but so does te experience of their peers, moderators and instructors.

Let’s look at the essentials:

Hardware

  • Be hardwired!! Students often say, “But I have great Wi-Fi, it can’t be on my end.” You had great Wi-Fi a few minutes ago but the Jones family upstairs or next door just sparked up three devices and now your Wi-Fi waves are fighting for air traffic. Buy a LAN cable for $5 and run it from your router to your PC. All routers (typically) have them.
  • A headset, you must have a headset. The Logitech H340 is more than adequate at just $40.
  • An optional camera: The Logitech Webcam 525 ($35 from Amazon.ca) gives excellent definition and quick framerate. At the same price I found Microsoft products to be very inferior, both in physical quality and in performance.

Software

  • Don’t use Skype. The quality has degraded over the years and your setting yourself up for lots of disappointment and poor audio/video.
  • Zoom is the way to go. Excellent performance, always reliable and rivals the features of the outrageously expensive GoToWebinar and Adobe Connect.
  • Collaborate Ultra is wonderful too if you have access to it.

Room setup

  • Have a relatively blank wall behind you
  • Have good front lighting, but aim the lights to the ceiling and have the light rebound and illuminate your face as well as the wall behind you. A well-lit room will do the same.
  • Close any curtains if it’s sunny out. The lighting will cast shadows even if directly on your face.

Ensure that you have the above essentials and you will have a wonderful online learning experience, from a setup point-of-view anyway.

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