As everyone knows, Zoom calls are (very) hard at the best of times, what with patchy wifi, variable frame rates and the various other glitches and hitches that colour the nowness of our communication. Teaching over Zoom is even harder, especially with patchy wifi, variable frame rates and the various other glitches and hitches that colour the nowness of our communication. I have been teaching remotely, like many of us, since last year, and have had a lot of time to reflect on my experience. Here are the top four lessons I have learned teaching classes via Zoom:
- FILL THE VOID WITH YOUR ENERGY. However much energy I expended in a class room, when I was face to face with people, now needs to be quadrupled. Zoom can be a dead zone for thoughts and feelings and responses and the only to overcome this is by powering through the gears and refusing to succumb to the darkness.
- DON’T LOOK BACK. Don’t mourn the physical classroom. That room is empty now and will never the be the same again, even if I ever get back into one. With the best will in the world, Zoom now represents the death of the classroom. This is both a fact to be acknowledged and an opportunity to rethink everything I have ever done teaching-wise. And I like opportunities like this. This is what I thrive on.
- DON’T CHEAT YOUR STUDENTS. Zoom has given me a chance to rethink and redo my approach to teaching and all that it entails. The length of a remote class can be challenging but this is a good thing and not to be squandered. I know of people being paid to teach full time and all they do is play films over Zoom for their students to watch over Zoom. If that was me I would be asking for my money back straightaway.
- BE GOOD VALUE FOR MONEY. Don’t overlook the experience of those you are teaching. They are paying for the privilege to sit in their bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, shared flat, communal area etc so give them all you got. I have never liked PowerPoint, even when it became an industry standard, so I use it sparingly and I make very effort to make any slide I create to look like any other piece of content my students consume. Not that there was before, but there is now simply NO excuse for shoddy presentations with low resolution images, default fonts and bullet points.