• Charles Houghton

5 Things I've learned about teaching visually on Zoom.

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

Let's start with the default condition: you must have a stable internet connection, a camera with audio and a Zoom account. I'm sure other services work, but consensus seems to be that Zoom has ironed out more of the kinks.

#1 Show don't tell.

It's hard to manage people talking on Zoom, it being like being one pigeon among a flock of many. Therefore, if you can, show people don't tell them. Lean on audio as a backup, not as your primary channel.

#2 Better Light can compensate for a less than stellar camera.

Vloggers have shown us for years, get a light with quality color and get it CLOSE. Current LED lights are amazing, but look for ones with high CRI which is a metric that tells you whether it creates light that is spectrally similar to outdoor light from the sun. I look at first since they cater to photographers with high standard. But I have also bought a flexible light from Amazon made my Neewer that dimmable and comes with a remote... it works just fine.

#3 Simplify your scene.

Reduce clutter by cleaning up your "set" or adding a backdrop. I'm a clutter-monster so I added a roll down backdrop from Neewer on Amazon. It helps. Oh, and I the paper backdrop rolls from too, Savage Paper is the brand in case that helps.

#4 Now get a better camera.

If you think you're in this online thing for the long haul, get a better camera. Some cameras have both USB and HDMI out. You'll likely use USB to start, as a webcam and later graduate to HDMI. If using HDMI, be sure the camera has "Clean" HDMI out. This may sound technical but that's because it IS technical. Ain't no way around getting somewhat technical, sorry.

#5 An iPad, an ATEM Mini and an HDMI camera can be the Holy Grail for this visual learning setup.

I have an iPad Pro outputting my screen via HDMI to an ATEM Mini video switcher. The iPad is secondary to my main camera and I switch between them with the press of a button on the ATEM Mini. OVERKILL, she says!?! Maybe, but in the grand scheme of things, this $300 device takes my cameras and my iPad, switches seamlessly between them, and outputs a webcam-compliant signal that all the Zoom-like apps get along with. Best tech investment I have ever made. Now, here's the rub, the ATEM Mini needs HDMI video, so that's the point of entry, USB webcam need not apply.

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