A Term Online: Teaching Diary (#5)

Dear diary, today I’m going to keep it very elementary. So here are the ABCs of 31 July, 2020:

A

What are a few things I’ve learned about managing Zoom lessons this week? I can think of these now…

1. If you’re using an old laptop (I am!) always RESTART your computer before starting your Zoom lesson. Especially if you anticipate the kind of 2-hour, multi-modal, 7-webtool, screenshare-heavy, 40+ people with video & mics on lesson that I’m teaching. It seems to nudge the percentage chance that things slow down and freeze up quite a bit lower.

2. I’d like to have been a bit clearer from the beginning about etiquette. Specifically, ‘no lying down’! I mentioned previously in this here diary the issue of students coming into class while driving, and in various stages of washing up. Today I had a handful of students who were…horizontal in class. Lying down, often folded into sheets and blanket! Cozy for sure! But distracting and ultimately inappropriate. So, here’s my maxim: be clear from the start about expectations about “stance”. Basically, they need to be positioned in some kind of “setting-nicely-in-a-desk-chair” near equivalent. Just…upright. Be clear about this. I think, perhaps, some of their other online lessons don’t involve as much camera-on time. So maybe they are used to just listening to the instructor while in full-on lounge position. To be honest, part of me LOVES the idea of being able to be in class in a dirty-laundry headstand. But as the instructor I’ll simply need to adult (v.) and dissuade this.

3. A really simple thing: if you’re using a Mac, select ‘hide dock’. When I’ve got the zoom whiteboard open with its toolbar, the main toolbar, the chat box, some webpage or google doc, a sticky note, and maybe the zoom participants list all crowding the screen, having my applications dock out of the way frees up that much extra space.

B

I’ve seen some folks sharing pictures of their teaching (online) workspaces. I snapped this photo of mine just before things got going this morning:

And here’s the (anonymized) after-class infographic message I sent to one group re: the requested/required “stance” to take when online in MY classes:

That’s about as harsh as I ever get. LOL. Like I said above, part of me hates doing this but it’s for the best.

C

My issue above was foreshadowed, it turns out, in one of the webinar sessions from last week’s online symposium from https://twitter.com/EdTechSIG! Second bullet point! And have a look at the rest of them. A good array of sound advice. I’d like to use the “private chat for peer feedback” idea sometime soon. Not sure I’ve done it at all yet.

Finally, a suggested to my learners about a specific use of YouTube when working on speaking. Please note that I will always and forever unconsciously spell the word algorithm this way. It’s just a fact of life I’ve learned to accept.

Finally, a bit of a non sequitur. A cultural note of interest, at least to anyone unfamiliar with everyday Thai culture:

I began one class today with a very simple “what do I have?” game. I slowly describe something I have on my desk or in my hand and the first student to guess it wins the round. One of the items was the below menthol inhaler thing. Now, if you’ve lived in Thailand this won’t surprise you…but if not it might. As soon as someone got it and I revealed it on the screen, out came the yaa dom (aromatherapy) inhaler sticks in nearly every single little Zoom window in my gallery view. Ha!

I mean, they could have given Billy the Kid a run for his fast-draw old west pistol showdown money! I was impressed.

Was it because my Zoom class makes them dizzy that they all had them so much at the ready? I think I’m going to ask them this, jokingly, next time we meet. Stayed tuned to see if they answer yes, and seriously, next week.

Smell ya later.

PS – if any of that sparks thoughts or experiences, please monitor your mind and identify what’s popping up. Second step, CRUSH that small but powerful voice you hear in there that says “nevermind posting that in the comments section below” and go on ahead and post about it in the comments section below.

FIN

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