Zooming in on a Virtual Art Class

If you have had to sit for any length of time on a virtual meeting you can relate to the frustrations that many kids have been experienced over the last year. As humans we need that personal interaction that keeps us connected and inspired. In many classrooms sessions we learn from each other and the discussion or problems from another student, but the virtual world takes that away. It removes the personal connection and expands the distractions. Where we may have the benefit of less travel it also adds more frustration due to technology.

I recently held a training for truck drivers where I think one driver may have left himself signed in, turned off the camera, out himself on mute, and left for the day. To be honest I don’t blame him it was a four hour class in Zoom. In 2020 I was asked to offer training for a real estate group on podcasting where everyone signed on, went on mute, and turned off their cameras. I felt like I was talking to a black screen and had to watch the chat box for any questions. Now i have used products like Zoom for years for my interviews so I was very comfortable using virtual software but even I miss the interaction of a class. So how do you get the most out of your virtual training? I’ll offer some tips below to help you have a successful session.

What device to use?

Many people use their mobile device for courses. While it may be more convenient it can lessen the view of the course and make you tired faster. Trying to see other guests, possibly a presentation or video can dramatically increase your mental focus and also cause more eye strain. Try to use a big screen like a computer if possible or invest in an HDMI chord for your phone so that you can use a television screen are a monitor. This will help you enjoy the class much more.

Should I use my camera?

The one issue with online meetings is that they can use a lot of bandwidth. Many presenters will ask you to turn off cameras to save possible WIFI issues. When everyone turns off their cameras it can take away that personal connection that we are trying to achieve online. Make sure you have a good WIFI signal or connection so that you will have a good interaction.

Take a few minutes to position your camera so that you are centred in the frame and can view the screen easily. From an instructor point of view we often see people so close I can see the hairs up their nose, or we see half of them, or their table. I use my camera app to see what I would look like before logging on to ensure I have a pleasant set up.

How to get the best audio?

Sound is paramount for a good experience. While you might not have the latest microphone nor do you need it you can still improve your audio experience. If you have a headset or earbuds use them. Speaking and listening through the device itself offers a tingy sound and ambient noise. You will enjoy the course much more with headphones such as earbuds, just make sure they have a built in microphone. If you don’t have a headset be careful of background noise. When I was teaching a kids course online last year I can hear parent’s conversations and people doing dishes in the background. It can be very distracting for the presenter and other participants. Try to be in a quite area or mute yourself if people are in the background.

Additional considerations may be lighting to make you look good on camera or a support to hold your device. Online interaction is a two way street where the interaction by both participants and the instructor affect the experience of the other. The more you can do to make your experience better will go along way to making the experience better for everyone. I hope that helps and see you online, oh and make sure to wear your pants.

About the Author

Bruce Outridge is an artist, instructor, and media entrepreneur from Burlington Ontario Canada. He has two podcast, a television show, and radio station and conducts over 100 interviews a year online, you can learn more about Bruce and his artwork at http://www.bruceoutridgeproductions.com