Day 2: My head is exploding. Does it show?


Welcome to a new world of synchronous, virtual course delivery. My link broke.

OK friends. I have lost count on how many structured, well-lit, planned-out, multiple-takes, recorded Panopto videos I have made over the past 6+ years. Never-have-I-ever tried to lecture-while-recording-while-messaging-while-ensuring that the screen capture is even working. “Oh my land” as my dear friend Michelle G. would say.

So I set out today to be more organized, structured, and purposeful in my second day of teaching from the virtual-land of dining room/recording studio. I re-visited my lesson plans to transition them into Today’s Hot Topic lists. I sent an email to the students to share my innovative approach and copy/pasted my original Zoom invite info. I decided I would open with a familiar Spotify playlist, update my backdrop and added two holiday string lights the way WSU Global Campus darling Andria D. did in her sweet setup displayed on her Facebook feed. I re-setup my webcam, re-tested my microphone. I was prepared. I coifed the hair (out of the face this time), put on an unobnoxious shirt. Again, ready to rock and roll. Until…

  • My recurring Zoom meetings link broke.
  • Randomly it said- “your meeting has been canceled.” What? How? When? Ergh.
  • I jumped into Blackboard, added the Zoom course tool, set up recurring meetings again, downloaded the .ics Outlook extension, set up a new meeting, invited the students with an added exclamation mark for emphasis, sent a follow-up email to apologize for any confusion, and waited.
  • 12+ students in the first class figured it out. They showed up! Yay!
  • Spotify worked on my side. They couldn’t hear it. Dang. I’ll deal with that later (note on yellow Post-it pad next to me awaits).
  • Anway – here we go. Let’s record this thing.

Let’s pause for a sec. When recording in a controlled setting in Panopto, I am able to pull off poised, witty, even endearing. In this live Zoom moment, I found myself stumbling, bumbling, and providing a good-old-fashion sea-sick worthy performance of scrolling, switching screens, and while we are at it – let’s download something irrelevant to the course.

Welcome again to the synchronous delivery of course content. I shall return to my turn of events…

I got through the session. I lectured a bit about adapting digital campaigns in this #Covid_19 climate, discussed campaign implementation best practices, walked through a tutorial on designing and distributing campaign emails using Constant Contact. We chatted a bit more as a group; some dropped off. One stayed for additional clarification. Whew. I did it. I ended the session and moved immediately to the next.

Oh no. The Zoom link is broken for this one too? Ack! Oof! (that was my homage to the old “Cathy” comic strip)

Again, I jumped into Blackboard (different course space), added the Zoom course tool, set up recurring meetings, downloaded the .ics Outlook extension, set up a new meeting, invited the students with an added exclamation mark for emphasis, sent a follow-up email to apologize for any confusion, and waited.

  • Sweet D. showed up. Love this boy. So kind and helpful. So patient and happy just to connect. We chatted for 5 minutes while a few others trickled in.
  • 15 minutes into the session I decided I would not “go live and recorded” as I did in the previous course. Instead, I would continue our banter and record it later.
  • The darling Kate arrived – one of my devoted Center for Civic Engagement project leads. She got the link to the Zoom call from one of her team members. She wanted to chat too. (Made a note I need to invite her and other CCE Leads to this Zoom too).
  • So I muted myself on Zoom while two other students met up about a class project they were working on together – even if remotely. They chatted in Zoom while Kate and I talked via traditional phone. It was beautiful in its own way. I loved seeing the collaboration, the smiles, the productivity even during times of adversity and stress. Inspiring.

Phew. It ended. I hit the top of the hour. Now it was time to settle in and properly record the 2p session so I could post it on Blackboard and reclaim the glory that was lost earlier in the day.

Or not.

I spent 20 minutes recording my face with my lovely backdrop and string lights-a-blazin’. No screen capture. Just me.

OK. Deep breaths. Delete. Re-set.

Let’s try this again. A few tips for you dear fellow faculty chugging along with me in this boat. I suggest you check your Zoom settings…

  1. To ensure you are sharing the right screen (a note meant especially for those managing two screens).
  2. To ensure the sound is coming from the desired source.
  3. To verify that in Settings > Recording, you have checked the box that says “Place video next to the shared screen in the recording.” Otherwise – your mug and the lovely faces of your students will show up on top of your beautifully-designed lecture slides.
  4. In your Settings > Video, make sure you have selected the desired camera, a 16:9 widescreen setup enabled HD, and touched up your appearance so you don’t look as sleepy as you feel.
  5. Please, dear people, record to The Cloud – not “Locally”. Otherwise, you cannot easily access your recording and you may be forced to upload your 120mb .mp4 file to something other than Blackboard because it is too big. Welcome to YouTube or Panopto and the addition of of many extra, annoying steps.

After all was said and done, I was able to get the first class video recording uploaded to Panopto and shared with the students. I also learned from mistakes and was successful in my video and screen capture for the second class. This time saved to The Cloud and easily accessible. Emails sent. Apologies made for any confusion and glitches. The world is officially re-centered.

So here I am at 8p after being ready for the day by 8a. The six other people in this house are a-buzz, making dinner (it’s burgers-on-the-grill night despite the snow), putting dishes away, laughing and trying to catch our silly chinchilla. Chris’ sons made dinner together – a first. My daughter (and now resident-photographer) just brought me a glass of wine and cheeseburger. It is chaos and I am blessed.

This post is part of Rebecca L. Cooney’s Online Teaching Tips series. Check out more tips in the “Online Teaching Tips” category.

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