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On opportunity to reflect on and retool your presentation style
Disruption is difficult, and the move to online teaching is no different. No matter how many tutorials and guides you read to improve your skills in using the online interface, there is just something different about online presenting. The move to online teaching imposes new challenges, and a presentation style relied upon for in-person teaching may not translate so well to the small screen.
However, just like any new experience, moving to online teaching provides opportunities to retool and reflect, providing opportunities to consider how you deliver your material and come across to others, as well as how to engage students through the class. Not does the change force you to refocus on your delivery of the material, but class recordings enable more easily reflect on your progress.
This article explores how Masterclass – a platform of professionally produced online instructional material from some of the most respected experts in their fields – can be an invaluable source of inspiration when transitioning online.
Learning communication advice from some of the most experienced presenters
Some of the most directly valuable classes in Masterclass when considering transitioning to online teaching are courses focused specifically on communication. Classes by Robin Robers and Neil deGrasse Tyson – both incredibly experienced presenters – both explore how to craft and deliver engaging material. While everyone’s presentation style is quite, and it’s never advisable to look to replicate someone else, there are valuable perspectives that you can learn from.
Raising the aspiration bar of online teaching
Potentially just as valuable as gaining advice on communication style, is that Masterclass also helps raise aspirations of what is possible when teaching through an online medium. Their classes can be considered exemplary in their professionalism, and the clarity in which the content is presented. While not clearly not all aspects of the presentation are replicable in a live class environment, there it is still valuable in aspiring to a similar standard of delivery and incorporating adjustments based on the material to enhance the overall class experience.
The role of storytelling in teaching
Beyond communication style, Masterclass also offers courses in storytelling, including from Malcolm Gladwell, perhaps one of the most distinguished writers at converting academic insight into accessible material. While storytelling is no replacement for course content, consideration to the narrative, and how best to structure it, may help in capturing interest and memorability of classes.
Investing in yourself
Probably the best way of looking at Masterclass is an investment in yourself, and, particularly if you are motivated to deliver the best course experience possible, it is likely to be a very worthwhile investment, with benefits that transcend throughout the presentation arena; clear, engaging, and authentic communication is such a valuable skill to develop. Masterclass costs $15 a month (billed annually) and includes over 70 experts in their field delivering courses of approximately 4-5 in length. For maybe some of the most polished educational material, the price is reasonable, and a fraction of what students are typically paying in class enrollment. Thus, whether the expense can be justified under a faculty budget or not, the overall cost is modest relative to the learning available.
While mirroring your webcam is often a useful feature on Zoom – with your preview the mirror-image of how it is recorded – there are occasions when it is more natural to disable this and see your preview the way participants do. This article explains how to disable the mirroring of your webcam in Zoom.
The chat feature on Zoom can sometimes be useful – potentially for sharing links with others – but it can also be distracting when presenting. Getting a flashing notification can interrupt the flow of a presentation, and allowing others to share messages when you are presenting can lead to side-conversations. Learn how to temporarily and permanently disable the chat feature.
The Zoom control bar is normally useful to have at hand (and for teaching it can be useful to always have it displayed). However, if you are sharing your entire screen it can be useful to disable it so that viewers can see your entire screen.
While having Zoom recording is a fantastic resource for students, enabling those who miss class to rewatch the missed material, it is possible that students may raise tangential or private issues, particularly at the start and end of classes when they may assume that there is no one else in the room. This article explains how to use Zoom’s trim feature to remove this unwanted material from the archive.
Although Zoom includes an easy to use options bar that appears at the bottom of the call, the standard behavior is for this bar to auto-hide. When presenting a Zoom class it is useful to have these options easily available so that they can be clicked as needed. This article illustrates how the change this default behavior.