Given the nature of what was covered in my classes yesterday, I decided to teach virtually using Zoom.
I feel pretty comfortable using Zoom, but it had been a while since I used it for a full class. In addition, this would be my first time using a Windows-based laptop for Zoom, since my Macbook Air seems like it may be on its last legs.
If you’re thinking that I’m hinting that there were some problems, you are correct.
Since I have been having trouble getting to know the students’ names this semester, another teacher suggested I take a screen shot of my students at the start of the Zoom session, since I would be able to put a name with a face (a maskless face at that!)
I also planned to use the breakout room feature in Zoom to split my students into smaller groups of 3-5 students for part of the class so that they could have a chance to get to know each other a bit. Doing so seems to have been a challenge this past year. I made sure I practiced how to use the breakout room feature before class started, so that I would be ready to go when that time arrived.
My first class was an 8:00 class, and I completely forgot about taking a screen shot. But I did remember to put them into their breakout rooms. Well, I should say breakout room. I forgot about the need to specifically set up separate breakout rooms, and I ended up putting all 45 students into one breakout room, which kind of defeated the whole purpose. I would have loved to hear the jokes they were having at my expense in that breakout room.
But I made sure I was ready for my 9:10 class. Right after class started I told them about wanting to take a screenshot of them on Zoom, and after getting them all to smile, I hit the PrtScr button on my Dell laptop. It was hard to tell if anything happened, but how hard can it be to hit PrtScr? When it came time for the breakout rooms, I remembered the need to set up multiple rooms, but I could not find the setting on how to do so (despite practicing earlier that morning). There’s not many things worse for a teacher than trying to figure out how to use a technology feature in real time, with 45 students staring at you. After a couple of minutes, I finally figured it out, and we were good to go.
After that class ended, I had 20 minutes before my next one, so I decided to take a look at the screen shots from the previous class. Unfortunately, there were none to be found. I went to Google to see if I was doing things correctly, and I discovered that I also need to hold the Windows button down while pressing the PrtScr button.
So two classes, no screen shots.
I vowed that I would get everything right for my next class, even practicing how to do a proper print screen.
Before I knew it, the 10:20 students started to arrive for my next Zoom session, and once they were all present, I took a PrtScr, and everything worked. When it came time for the breakout rooms, I was an old pro by now, and they were in their breakout rooms before they knew what hit them
So like the old saying goes, the third time was the charm. Fortunately, everything worked correctly for my fourth and final class as well.
In hindsight, getting the technology to work should be a given, allowing the teacher to focus on the actual content he or she is trying to deliver.
I guess I’ll worry about that the next time…