Why online instructors must learn to multitask

Are the classroom’s camera and ceiling mics properly configured with the videoconferencing software?

Matthew Evertson, an English professor at Chadron State College in rural Nebraska, says he has embraced distance learning because it allows more students to participate in his classes more often.

“But audio does seem to be the biggest stumbling block,” Evertson adds.

Teaching remotely, Evertson has to keep more things in mind than just his lecture notes.

Before each class, for example, he has to check that the classroom’s camera and ceiling mics and are properly configured with Zoom, the online videoconferencing software the college uses.

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If he forgets, it can cause degraded audio, particularly for class discussions.

When the remote students message in to notify him, he may not see their alerts for several minutes if he’s lecturing, Evertson says.

And sometimes, he simply can’t fix the audio problems, which he may not even notice until he reviews the video after class, he adds.

“I’ll double-check the mics and we seem to have them all correct but some of the time the audio’s just inexplicably bad,” he says. “We’re just cutting out. It could be the internet—there’s no way for me to know.”

Still, Evertson says he remains a firm believer in distance learning. “The students who are Zooming in, they’ve been very active in the conversations, and I’ve been able to have lots of students come into class who normally wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Read the other stories in our “Sound Quality in Distance Learning” series:

  1. 5 steps for making online learning sound great
  2. You need top-notch microphones for distance learning.
  3. Instructors must realize it’s a performance.
  4. So, train those presenters!
  5. IT and AV leaders should stay in touch with instructors.
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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