On-camera: Performance tricks from the pros

Following are 10 ways to increase the odds of engaging and connecting with students through video.

  • Watch yourself on camera to see how you come across, suggests Jennifer Flatt, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Marinette. Seeing what students see can help improve on-camera teaching techniques.
  • Worry less about your clothing—although, know that herringbone and intricate patterns are distracting to view on screen—and concentrate more on energy level and expressions.
  • Look right into the camera as you’re teaching.
  • Tape reminders to yourself on note cards on the wall above or just beyond the camera so that you won’t have to look down to refresh your memory.
  • Keep in mind that PowerPoint slides should be used as an outline, to emphasize key points or present visuals that enhance the content, says Tapp. No one likes to have slides read to them verbatim, either in class or in a recording.
  • “Use a background that shows a sense of place,” says Jane Bailey, provost of Waterbury, Conn.-based Post University, which serves more than 15,000 online adult learners. Film on-site whenever possible, or find locations that relate to the lesson for the day.
  • Envision a fictional audience on the other side of the camera and look at different points in the room, as if you are making eye contact with different students.
  • Stay facing the camera as much as possible, so students see your face and not your back.
  • If you are filming yourself in-class, make sure you repeat questions posed by other students, suggests Frasciello.
  • Try not to refer to time during class, as in, “On Tuesday we’ll talk about…” The student watching after-the-fact will have no idea when Tuesday was, or how that day relates to the current lesson.

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