Another dot in the blogosphere?

Grad-zoom-ation and listening

Posted on: July 31, 2020

Yesterday I participated in a Zoom-based tribute for a small group of graduates of a Masters programme.

Zoom celebration of Masters graduates, 2020.

I have covered the faces of the participants in the screenshot above as I respect their privacy. My name and face are in full view because this is my account.

Other than congratulating these deserving graduates, the video conferencing session was an opportunity to catch up with the graduates who have since progressed in their careers or received promotions. All of us were very proud of them!

My technical set up: I was on my trusty Macbook Pro and in my study. I opted for natural light from a window on one side and a small bounce light from the other side. I opted NOT to disguise my background because of the odd artefacts this creates.

The camera was at eye level and I took care to position myself so that my head was in the correct third of the screen. For audio, I relied on bluetooth earphones so that I could hear everyone and be heard by others clearly.

I noticed that just about everyone knew to mute their microphones when they were not speaking. This must have come from weeks of practice thanks to classes in lockdown. I was acutely aware of this as I live under the flightpath of landing military aircraft. The roar overhead would spoil any celebration!

My main reflection: I realised how my pedagogical orientation influenced a social event. Instead of speaking at length and straight away, I asked my former students to share something first. Only then did I offer my thoughts and reiterate the congratulations.

I know that all of us approach social events differently, be they on Zoom or in person. I am so used to looking through the lens of an educator so much that I opt to listen first and talk later (if at all). This is not something that came naturally — ask any academic and they will talk your ears off. But I have found great value in listening first.

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