Chances are when you decided to become a teacher “live streaming” wasn’t something you envisioned as part of your job description. As we all know, COVID-19 has changed the course of how we live, work, and learn—and, when it comes to teaching, let’s be honest, it’s changed everything.
Though we’re just weeks into the new school year, your school’s distance learning plan is probably changing rapidly, maybe even daily, which means you’re most likely already engaging in an online-plus in-class learning strategy—or, maybe you’re teaching 100 percent virtual already. Whatever the case may be, this new way of engaging with your students has become your new reality, and it most likely won’t be going away anytime soon. If you’re a teacher with a flair for the technical, and you enjoy being in front of a camera, this has probably been a natural transition for you. But, if you’ve found virtual teaching to be more challenging—especially from an equipment perspective—don’t worry, you’re not alone.
The struggle is real.
There are many challenges involved in a blended environment of both online and in-class learning. First, there’s the obvious struggle of teaching in front of a camera and juggling the dual role of interacting with your in-class students while simultaneously checking in with your virtual learners through the lens. Plus, there’s the ever-looming question of are you set up with the right equipment to give both sets of students the best possible experience?
If you’re looking to improve your live-streaming capabilities, there are affordable and easy-to-use accessories that can help up your game. These components work in tandem with your camera, tablet or phone, and can help transform your classroom (or home office) into a top-notch virtual learning studio.
Here’s a few examples:
1. Green Screen
A green screen allows you to drop in any background you want … a classroom, a mountaintop, or even a movie. It’s how the TV meteorologist shows you the map on their computer … and looks like they are standing in front of it. (Bonus, you never have to clean your living room again if you’re teaching from home! Zip the screen up, pick a background photo and voila!)
Good lighting, such as key lights, can give your classroom or home office a more professional studio-quality feel, as well as create a brighter overall picture.
Camera mounts allow you to position your camera, light or phone at any angle. It also allows you to position the camera over your workspace so students can see exactly what it is you’re demonstrating.
4. Stream Deck
This might sound complicated, but it’s easier than you think. Essentially a stream deck gives you the capability to change camera views, as well as switch between scenes. You can also launch video clips, presentations, insert graphics and text, as well as mute your audio—all from one convenient device.
Cam links allow you to connect your DSLR, camcorder, or action cam to your PC or Mac®, and use it as a webcam in your favorite apps to make online classes more engaging. For instance, record that science experiment, and then play it back during class time as you narrate each step.
Although accessories like these might not solve all your virtual-teaching challenges, implementing them as a bundle, or maybe even one or two on their own, might just be the game-changer you’re looking for. All good things start with small steps, so please, don’t forget, we’re all learning and adapting to this new way of life together. You’re doing a great job and with the right tools you’ll only get better. Hang in there!