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Posts Tagged ‘video

… of misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19.

Video source

Like the coronavirus, such “alternative facts” are insidious and easy to distribute. Unlike the coronavirus, this disease infects the thinking and belief systems of its victims.

Has the story been reported anywhere else? Is it from a reliable source? Has the photo or image been taken out of context?

There is no known cure for either. But we do have treatments for symptoms. They range from simple heuristics like the one presented in the video (screenshot above) to agencies offering frameworks (e.g., NLB’s SURE) to courses on media literacy (e.g., Crash Course YouTube playlist).

Preamble: I am adding this important note after writing and scheduling my reflection. I just found out that the creator of the video below, Raynard Heah, passed away recently after a battle with cancer. He was also the interviewer and narrator in the video. I knew Raynard for only a short period, but I valued his passion to share what he learnt with his colleagues. The teaching service has lost a valued son.

This was odd — my blog stats alerted me about an entry from 2013 was receiving an unusual number of hits.

That entry was my reflection about a video interview when I was the head of a centre for e-learning.

Video source

I could not remember what happened during the interview, so I watched the video again. After cringing at my droning voice and frumpy appearance, I was surprised at how relevant the questions and answers were today.

The three main questions were:

  1. What is e-learning?
  2. What are some common mistakes teachers make when implementing e-learning?
  3. How might teachers get a good start on e-learning?

The short version of my answers were:

  1. Here is what e-learning is not: Simply completing tasks for a checklist; trying to replicate classroom teaching.
  2. Mistakes: Focusing too much on the “e” and not enough on the “learning”; trying to transfer face-to-face strategies wholesale and uncritically to an online environment; assuming that being technologically savvy is the same as being digitally wise.
  3. Starting with e-learning: Plan simple but different; design for learner empowerment and ownership; leverage on what students are already doing or using.

The teachers and I elaborate on examples of each idea above.

In 2013, I concluded with this thought:

On hindsight, there is one other non-example I should have given about e-learning. The “e” in e-learning should not be thought of as emergency or extra.

That mindset relegates the activities to something you pull out of a hat when the school has to close due to something like SARS or reduces it to an afterthought.

That mindset makes the design of e-learning hurried, its implementation curried (too hot to handle), and its evaluation buried!

When we collectively get of the COVID-19 curve, will we have learnt anything and changed our expectations and behaviours? I reflect on this question tomorrow.

Today I draw inspiration from how some Italians are dealing with an extreme form of social distancing — self-isolation in a bid to flatten the curve.

Video source

The reminder? Science will eventually heal the body. But music already heals the soul.

Before I started using Zoom, I tested it by creating dummy sessions. It was then that I raised questions about odd default administrative settings.

By conducting dry and actual runs with my class, found answers to most of my questions. However, I also discovered one bad setting. This was the default deactivation of participants’ video and audio after returning from breakout rooms.

The default setting of initially muting audio and video is like walking into a classroom blindfolded and wearing earplugs. Thankfully each user can undo this manually so that we see and hear each other.

However, if I break a class up into smaller groups and then return everyone to a class discussion, everyone’s video and audio turns off again. I was not aware of this and one participant had to ask me to unmute my mic.

Who operates a class with constant blindfolding and earplugging? Again this is a reminder that administrators rarely understand or empathise with pedagogues.

A bit over a week ago, I offered some video conferencing tips for students who need to meet online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Lifehacker offered tips for workers who need to telecommute with conference calls. So I thought I should share a few tips for instructors who have synchronous online sessions with students.

My previous tips for students apply to teachers, but here are a few that are geared to the latter.

Dress for success. As someone who needs to lead, you need to look the part. You do not need to wear a suit or gown, but you do need to look like you are the instructor or lead learner. Dressing like you would for a classroom puts you in the right frame of mind.

Good lighting is key. If you have a good source of natural daylight from a window, position yourself near it. But do not create a backlighting situation because the camera will darken your face as it struggles with contrast. If the natural light is from the side, bounce the light back from the opposite side with a white cloth, board, or large piece of paper.

If you need artificial lighting, do not rely on just one source, e.g., ceiling light, corner lamp, laptop screen. Try to position two small lamps (with bulbs of the same colour temperature) on either side and in front of you to provide an even light. You do not want shadows that make you look tired, like a monster, or like a tired monster.

Good audio is even more important. If you do not have a high-quality microphone, use a headset with a built-in microphone (even those near ubiquitous white earphones with the dangly mic will do). These are still generally better than the microphones on your computer at reducing echoes or hollow-sounding audio.

Elevate your laptop webcam to eye level.

Elevate your laptop  so that the webcam is at eye-level (see my example). If you leave it on the table at normal height, the camera will look up at you. That will highlight your chin (or chins) and possibly showcase your nostrils*. You want your students to focus on the learning experience; you do not want to distract them with your exaggerated appearance.

Your backdrop matters. You do not want a distracting background, e.g., one that reveals you are a hoarder, drug dealer, or kidnapper (my, that escalated quickly). Your video conferencing software might mask your background, but this can create odd visual artefacts. You can either “cocoon” yourself by putting a big white sheet behind you or you can choose a background that encourages learning. I conduct my sessions from my study and there are bookshelves in the background.

Test everything (EVERYTHING) beforehand. Do not use the ‘live’ session as a test of your computing device, Internet bandwidth, webcam, microphone, teaching resources, etc. If you can, conduct a dry run with your learners in class so that you can troubleshoot together. If you cannot, conduct a test online session with a colleague or a few reliable students.

*I made a mistake in my latest session of sitting too close to the computer. As I needed tilt my head up to use the “reading” part of the lenses in my spectacles, I looked down my nose and presented my nostrils. I should have simply removed my spectacles to remedy the situation.

I prepared seven slides as part of a preparatory briefing for a group of students. Instead of attending a face-to-face class, they need to go online as a COVID-19 precaution.

As some might not have done this before, I decided to return to basics. I share the slides under Creative Commons license: CC-BY-SA-NC.

Note: I created the slides with Google Presentations and used the flash cards template. I modified the content of each template slide to fit the theme of each online conferencing tip.

I will be facilitating a synchronous online portion of a class next Saturday. We will be using Zoom.

I am recycling some tips I have for video conferencing. I have added to my list following this excellent piece from Beth Kanter.

  1. Use headphones/earphones, preferably with a built-in microphone. This will prevent the audio feedback that creates echoes during the session.
  2. Mute your microphone (via Zoom software) when you are not using it. This prevents audio leaks which might interrupt the session.
  3. Use the texting tool as a communication backup.
  4. Choose a quiet place with strong and reliable Internet connection. Refrain from relying on a library or coffee shop.
  5. Set the physical space up so that you are not interrupted. It might help to create a sign for the door to inform other occupants of a shared space. Make your physical space comfortable for a few hours.
  6. Be camera ready if you are to appear video. You might be at home, but you are still attending a class in a social setting.
  7. Do not multitask. Stay on task whether it is asynchronous or synchronous. Use the suggested time-on-task in the instructions to guide your effort.

As I have the benefit of meeting the class in person this week, I intend to dedicate about an hour of our session to prepare for the Zoom-enabled class. We will:

  1. Download the Zoom client.
  2. Install the Zoom client.
  3. Join the Test Session.
  4. Use reactions* (e.g., thumbs up).
  5. Test the text chat.
  6. Set up your video* camera and audio.
  7. Test the breakout rooms (small groups) and screen sharing.

*Note: Might be disabled by the institute’s IT administrator

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