About Video Conferencing

Guidance on the use of cameras, video conferencing tools and how to build community asynchronously.

The image above is from an infographic created by Torrey Trust under CC-BY-SA-NC 4.0, retrieved from here.

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  • Use of cameras
  • Video conferencing tools
  • Building community asynchronously

A note about cameras on/off

You will notice in some of the activities, we offer alternative ways of conducting activities if students have their cameras off.

Many people teaching online during COVID-19 feel compelled to require students to turn their cameras on. This is problematic for several reasons, including connectivity and cultural issues and that it is contrary to trauma-informed pedagogy and having a camera on is not really a proxy for engagement - here are some other ways to engage students that do not require cameras on. Giving students choice here is key, while also making sure your attention is not unevenly distributed among students with cameras on and off. Teachers can try this interactive tool developed by Autumm Caines (inspired by Torrey Trust's infographic below) to help them take note of equity in their video conferencing practices. 

A note about different video conferencing tools

Institutions differ in which video conferencing tools they offer and which they may restrict.

Most video conferencing tools have similar functionality, but the area that seems most different between tools is the smoothness of the “break out rooms” functionality. If you are unable to use Zoom with your classes, here are some alternatives that offer breakout room functionality:

Can we build community asynchronously?
There are many reasons why you might need to consider doing community-building activities asynchronously - whether it is because some of your students have sub-optimal infrastructure, or your institution requires it. For most activities that are demonstrated synchronously, we have offered adaptations for doing them asynchronously or engaging students with them asynchronously if needed.

The infographic above is created by Torrey Trust under CC-BY-SA-NC 4.0, retrieved from here.

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Nana Bella
Nana Bella
1 month ago

Elementary students should be given a choice until there is a way for one way camera view for only the teacher to see the student. It is innapropriate for a young student feel anxious with a camera on for hours worrying about bullying and peer judgement.

Louella Nelson
2 months ago

I use chat and ask students to write something cogent about the reading homework before we begin lecture or activities. This chat lets me know week to week who is doing the reading; if they are not, I can address non-compliance in an off-class or after-class time. Meanwhile, with 20 to 30 students, it’s just not possible to ask constant questions of all students to see if they are there and engaged while still conducting the lecture and activities my Department expects. I want to see my students. I’ve taught Freshman Comp since 2006. Through Zoom, for the first time, there is an intimacy between myself and students that never existed to the same degree in the on-campus classroom, where students are up to 35 feet away. All student video is a bit vague unless the student is in sunlight, so shaming doesn’t seem to be a real issue so far as I can guess. I light myself well so the student feels I am present before them, enough so that they can see my facial expressions and connect with eye contact.

Dennis Anderson
Dennis Anderson
2 months ago

I have a disabled student that drives around in his car during the class. He is trying to take the course using only a phone. His camera is usually off. I tried to have an unscheduled office hour with him to help him get his situation together, but I cancelled it because he was driving around. If he is in a traffic accident, am I liable in any way because he was doing that? Something tells me that this either IS or SHOULD BE illegal. I’ve told him that he needs to have the right devices and a quiet location to be successful in this course and when he has that ready we can proceed but not if he’s driving his car.

How do I use these resources?

We have created a welcome video and some introductory text that explains in detail how to use these resources. You can also find answers to some key questions below. 

Yes you can. We have included descriptive text and slides that you can reuse / adapt for this reason. We have suggested some variations for activities to help you make adaptations.

We show how much time an activity should take and what resources you need to help you make a decision.

As we include more resources over time you will have a greater choice of activities and more information about the different contexts within which they work best. 

Any technique can block some people out, make them feel unwelcomed, or be used in a way that privileges some and makes it harder on others.

All of these techniques should be used in conjunction with pedagogies of care and what we call Intentionally Equitable Hospitality

If you try an adaptation of this activity, or try it as is and have interesting results to share, please contribute your adaptation/reflection in the comments or get in touch through social media / email.

Coming soon: there will be room to discuss these activities in private discussion forums in OneHE’s.

Please join the OneHE mailing list to make sure you know when this community space has been launched.

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