Inside the Distance Learning Classroom

A checklist for instructors inside the classroom.

Planning for Interaction

Students who have no prior experience with distance learning may be nervous. Other students may feel more comfortable being on camera. In the particular case of LCTLs, bear in mind that there may be only a few students at the remote location, and it is important to encourage participation.  Students who feel they are being left out may not perform to their potential. Here are some helpful ideas to promote interactivity:

  • Start with introductions of everyone.
  • Acknowledge students in your classroom and those at a distance by name to answer or ask a question.
  • When a person at a remote site asks a question, always repeat it in the event others did not hear it.
  • Remember to engage the remote site frequently.  It is easy for remote students to forget they are in class and to fall into a "just watching T.V." frame of mind.
  • Remember to alter the camera angle as necessary. 
  • The camera does require you to change your behavior and movements to a certain degree.
  • Watch yourself on tape to see what works and what doesn't.
  • Be especially aware of blackboard visibility and legibility.  Encourage students at the remote site to manipulate the camera and use the zoom function.  If a whiteboard or a room with a whiteboard can be arranged, it can help.
  • Plan carefully.  A videoconferenced class should not rely on "spur of the moment" activities.  Ideas conceived at the last second might not work with remote students.
  • Having students perform at the board may present complications; remember the camera angle.
  • Group work can run into practical obstacles, but it can work if given extra care.  Think how to pair or group students across sites effectively.
  • During group work, if you decide to pair a local student with a student at a remote site, make sure that the TV's volume is adjusted accordingly.  You don't want the volume of the TV to interfere with others in the classroom.

Looking Good

Here are some guidelines for being in front of the camera:

  • Dress conservatively.
  • Solid colors look best on camera.
  • Lines, stripes, and flowery patterns are hard on the camera.
  • Face powder helps tone a shine.
  • Avoid distractions such as bright nail polish, too many rings, dangling jewelry, large earrings, or reflective pins.