All of us, both parents and students, have had to adjust to video calls and live lessons since the start of the third lockdown. Our local schools have been delivering a much higher level of remote learning provision to pupils.
At Tutor Doctor, we have also had to adapt our model from a mainly in-home tutoring service to most of our tutors delivering live online lessons. We anticipate that even once the pandemic recedes, there will be hybrid approach where sessions can occur via either virtual tutoring or in-home lessons.
We have learnt a few tactics that can make for a smoother live lesson, and hence result in a better learning experience. Hopefully, these tips might be helpful to you.
Signal, Signal, Signal
Have you got cut off in the middle of a conversation, or maybe the person you are speaking to sounds like he talking whilst drowning in water? Whilst everyone is learning or working from home, having a poor internet signal is at the top of the list of frustrations. So, what can you do to ensure a strong connection?
The first thing to do is to restart your computer and internet router equipment if you sense that the connection is lagging. The classic “Have you switched it off and on again?” is often the simplest fix for many IT problems!
Secondly, you could also ditch the Wi-Fi and use a cabled line from your router instead. If your normal place of study and work is in a different room or location to the router, you could purchase ethernet adapters at an affordable price, which allows the broadband signal to be transmitted via the internal electric wiring of the house.
Another means to improve your signal is to switch to a new internet provider. Find out from your neighbours which broadband service provider is the most reliable and be sure to check out both Fibre-cabled and Openreach options.
Organize your Environment.
Remote live lessons present a new set of challenges that you would not normally encounter in an in-person setting. Luckily, these challenges can often be overcome with a few minor tweaks.
Have your face visible. We are biologically hardwired to respond to faces. So, make sure that the camera of your mobile device is positioned at eye level, get a stand to keep your mobile device upright during video calls, and make sure that the light in your room is adequate.
With grades being awarded via teacher assessment, your subject teachers are more likely to judge that you have grasped the content if you can show that you have understood the topic through your facial expression. Every little helps!
Do also arrange your background according to how you would like to be perceived. This is a chance to showcase your personality and having an organised room with interesting objects in your background can help your teachers and tutors to find something to engage with you in starting off a conversation.
Don’t forget that the technology can be used to your benefit also. Like most people, we have adopted Zoom as our go to video calling platform, and there are several features that are worth learning such as
Agree some ground rules.
“You’re on mute!” is possibly one of the most uttered phrases of 2020.
The team behind the UK’s world-leading vaccine taskforce had a rule, whereby every time a team member tried to speak without first unmuting, she would be hit with a small fine for the mistake. This disincentive was perhaps one of the many marginal gains which helped the programme proceed efficiently and become such a success.
So how does that anecdote relate to having successful Zoom calls? The lesson to be drawn here is that having some ground rules lays a good foundation for efficient and effective communication.
Often your school may have decided on these rules already. Are written messages in the chat box encouraged or discouraged? What is the best way for a student to join a group discussion – should I just unmute myself and speak, or should I raise my hand virtually? Each school or teacher would have their own set of rules, even if it’s informal.
Parents could clarify these questions with your teachers and tutors and share it with your child. We have found that children as young as five could be taught how to mute and unmute themselves, and how to end a video call.
Finally, remember to take breaks between each video call, if possible, to avoid video conference fatigue. Having back-to-back video calls can get very mentally taxing, and so we encourage parents and students alike to insert regular stretches and walks between each call!