How we can salvage Zoom lectures

Meg Howe gives her tips on how to make a Zoom lecture bearable

Meg Howe
3rd November 2020
Image: Marco Verch Professional Photographer on Flickr
The Zoom lecture. The dreaded breakout room. The dodgy WiFi. The sound of housemates shouting the second you turn your camera on. The "it would be nice to see faces rather than a screen full of names". All things that we have been prone to experience in the last three weeks.

However, since this is the new ‘normal’ and what we seem to be paying for, we’d best make the most of it! Of course, there are ways of salvaging what could be seen as a Zoom disaster. If I had to lead a seminar or lecture myself, these are some things I would do differently:

  1. Do not – and I repeat, DO NOT – upload lectures onto Canvas on Sunday evening that are going to be discussed in a Monday 9am seminar. There are five ‘working’ days in the week, and if I were conducting the seminars, I would ensure that my students had an adequate amount of time to watch the material(s) needed.
  2. Mise-en-scène is important! Making sure that the camera angle is decent makes the lecture a lot more engaging. We don’t like to see your face from a dodgy angle. Backgrounds are just as important. It can also be quite fun to put a nice picture as your background to make us all giggle (and I don’t mean one of the ‘official’ university ones!).
  3. Make sure to have time for the lecture. This has been timetabled before hand and is the same every week. Ensuring that nothing is distracting helps us feel as though we are in a ‘proper’ lecture hall, as we have the undivided attention of the person delivering the content. It can be distracting when your attention is swayed to something else in the room. Of course, sometimes this can’t be helped, but in those circumstances, it would be nice to have an apology.
  4. Have a plan! Going into a seminar and having the academic leading the group say “I’m not really sure what this hour is for” is not promising. As students paying for this service, we expect you to have a plan for the hour, rather than spending half of it asking what we would like to do: isn’t that your job?

Of course, we’re working with the best of a bad situation here, but if people work hard at engaging students, Zoom lectures are definitely possible. We just all have to be willing to give it a try!

Featured Image: Marco Verch Professional Photographer on Flickr

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AUTHOR: Meg Howe
Passionate History student and Educator

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