Orienting Students on the First Day of Class

Familiarize students with the technology

VC ClassroomTaking some steps to make students comfortable with the technology can help to minimize the sense of distance and make students more comfortable participating in class.

  • During the first class session, give students a few minutes to become familiar with the remote control. Have each student adjust the camera to show other students in the room, and zoom between views of single students and the entire group. (A staff person, either at your site or at another site on the system, can help with this.)
  • Ask students to zoom the camera to a closer view and introduce themselves one at a time.
  • Make it a point to have students at all sites be seen on camera by others. This helps to reinforce the fact that there are others “out there,” and doing this frequently can help to allay some of your students’ anxiety about being on camera.
  • Ask students to practice muting and unmuting the microphone in their room.
  • Ask students to adjust the volume in their room.
  • If you plan to have students use the document or ceiling-mounted camera or a computer, ask them to practice, one site at a time.
  • You might want to have students designate a classmate at each site who will have primary responsibility for the technology.

Establish protocols for participation

When raising their hands is not an option, how will distance students signal their desire to ask questions or participate in the discussion?

  • Allowing students to just speak out will result in disruptive switching between the view of your site and the view of the student’s site as the system attempts to decide whose audio it should follow.
  • At a minimum, be sure to pause from time to time to give students the opportunity to join in. Ask students to wait for these opportunities rather than just “jumping in.”
  • A slight delay between the audio and the video means that students will be heard before they will be seen.
  • When the system finally does switch to their site, the video from your site will be interrupted. Asking students to preface their remarks with a very brief introduction (for example, “Hi, Jodi here. I have a question.”) allows the system enough time to switch to them before they get to the substance of what they want to say, letting participants better focus on what the students are saying without the distraction of the video switching during the question or comment. The simple introduction also minimizes the “surprise” element and gets participants more prepared to listen.
  • You might also build in regular, more extended times of a few minutes and invite comments and questions.

Reduce distractions

  • Encourage students not to place unnecessary materials on the table or to shuffle papers, tap their pens, etc.
  • If you plan to lecture for a while, ask students to mute their microphones. When distance students chat among themselves – even to share their thoughts on what you are saying – they can switch the system away from your site.


Troubleshooting Strategies 

 Class Interactions