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Friday, September 24, 2021

Cherish Their Dots

A picture of the cover of the book, The Dot

The Dot by Peter Reynolds is one of my favorite books. This picture book is a reflection on how to nurture creativity in people. It is simple. It is beautiful. It is insightful.

The story begins with a boy in an art class.  He sits with a blank piece of paper in front of him. He is frustrated because he “can’t draw.” His art teacher asks him to make a mark on the paper. The boy slams his pencil onto the paper and makes a dot. “There!”, he says. The teacher admires the dot and says “Now sign it?” The boy is surprised, but he signs it and leaves. 


The next week, he returns to art class to see his autographed dot framed and mounted above his teacher’s desk. Astonished, the boy looks at the dot and says “I can make a better dot THAT!” He proceeds to create red dots, purple dots, little dots, big dots, on and on. His dot creation is so profuse that he holds an art show to share his creations with the world. 


What happens at the exhibit is wonderful. I won’t share it with you here, but it is well worth getting the book to find out.


Cherish


The message of this book is that everyone must begin somewhere. It takes a great deal of bravery to stick our toes in the world of drawing or painting or writing or cooking or whatever. Making this initial venture can be scary, and whether or not a person continues will lie greatly on how the public reacts to their work. 


This is where The Dot demonstrates the importance of that reaction.  We MUST cherish new ventures. Every venture is better than the vacant space that would be present if nothing was tried. Every venture needs to have a supporter who cherishes the bravery and fortitude necessary to begin this experiment. 


When our children/students/friends "make a dot", we must support them. We must ask them to sign the dot and cherish what they have created.  This can nurture the strength it requires to do it again. 


We MUST Cherish their Dots!




Sunday, September 19, 2021

ARGH!!! Today Be "Talk Like a Pirate Day!"

"Shiver Me Timbers, Matey."


TODAY, September 19 is 

"International Talk Like a Pirate Day." 

This is the day where you can enjoy being crazy.  You can dress like a pirate or just throw some "Args" and "Mateys" and "Ahoys" into your discussions with friends.

What Can You Do on "Talk Like a Pirate Day?"

Whatever you do, have a fun time being who want to be and doing it with your friends!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Translated into Pirate Lingo . . .

"Shiver Me Timbers, Matey."

TODAY, September 19 be "International Natter Like a Pirate Day." 

'Tis the day where ye can enjoy bein' crazy.  Ye can dress like a pirate or jus' throw some "Args" 'n "Mateys" 'n "Ahoys" into yer discussions wit' scallywags.

Wha' Can Ye Do on "Natter Like a Pirate Day?"

  • Dress like a pirate. 
  • Translate yer writings into Pirate Natter. 
  • Gather yer mateys t' 'ave a Pirate Party. 
  • free printables, a pirate-themed cake, or hold a "best pirate costume" contest.
  • Get Free Booty at Long John Silver's - Free FishTell Pirate Jokes
  • Go on a pirate scavenger hunt

Whatever ye do, 'ave a fun time bein' who wants t' be 'n doin' it wit' yer mateys!



 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The EASY Way to "Share Your Screen" Smoothly in Zoom


Sharing your screen in Zoom is not difficult, doing it SMOOTHLY can be challenging at times.   

The key is using Keyboard Commands. 

It is easy enough to just click on the Green Box at the bottom of the screen, but I find it much faster on my MacBook Air to just use Command-Shift-S (Alt-S for Windows.) 

I just finished hosting a Zoom Service for our Cedar Valley Unitarian Universalists today. Using two monitors, I had the slideshow on my separate screen and the Zoom controls on my laptop. 

Making smooth transitions from pastor to slideshow and back again is important. Looking for a quick way to make the change, I referred to my Dr. Z's Zoom Keyboard Shortcuts page and found the keyboard commands for making this happen. Funny thing was that I had never used the keyboard to share my screen but it worked BEAUTIFULLY!

How do you use Keyboard Shortcuts when you use Zoom?  You don't?  Check my shortcuts chart and tell us which ones you use or will likely find useful.

Z


Monday, July 12, 2021

How Does Watching/Listening Faster Affect My Learning?

OK, having read my previous posting, Learn Faster by Watching Faster, and asked "How does faster watching/listening affect learning?" How can my brain comprehend content that is faster than the typical human speaking pace?  

Good Question.  The answer is - It all Depends!  Some research supports accelerated watching/listening.  Some research found that students do poorly on tests after watching/listening to videos 2x times the regular speed. The problem with these studies is that they approach it as an either/or situation.  They have students listen to content at 2x and then test them.  

Success with this process is a personal outcome. It depends upon:

  • Content of the video/audio. 
  • Your ability to understand the audio language. 
  • How much attention you are paying to the audio track. 

People typically speak English at about 150 words per minute (wpm).  (I would assume that this applies to other languages as well, but I didn't find any research on that.) Our maximum rate for comprehension is about 450 wpm.  This means that we might be able to triple (3x) the speed of discourse and still understand it. 

What Will Work for You?

I must admit that I usually keep my listening at a 1.5x or 1.75x rate. I have tried 2x but don't find that comfortable. Your choice must be based upon what works for you . . . but what is that magic speed?

The Oxford Online English center suggests a short test to identify which speed works best for you. 
Oxford Online English - How to Understand Fast Speech.

Begin by finding an audio track (maybe on a video) containing the type of information you typically need to learn.  Wouldn't make sense to listen to a highly-technical medical video if you will be listening to lectures for typical education videos.  It will work best if you have a transcript of the piece, but not necessary.

  1. Warm up by listening to a few sentences in the video.  Try to remember what they said.
  2. Listen to another sentence.
  3. Try to type/write out the sentence exactly.
  4. Repeat this for 2 more sentences. 
  5. Compare what you typed/wrote to the transcript (or listen to it again.)
  6. How many mistakes did you make?  Every missing, wrong, or forgotten word is a mistake. 
  7. You are only allowed 1 mistake.  Any more, then you need to slow down your speed and try again.
  8. If you got them all right, try it again at a faster speed. Continue until you find the speed you want to use.
What worked for you?  I had a couple of errors at 1.75x - but I plan to get better.

Pay Attention!

The most important part of understanding rapid speech is to PAY ATTENTION!  It's too easy for us to try to multitask while watching a video.  The problem is that we often don't remember what we just heard because our minds had drifted to something else. That means that we have to listen to watch/listen to it again. 

You have to pay careful attention if you are speeding up your videos. If you speed up a 12-minute video to 1.5x, you will be able to watch it in 2/3 of the time, or 8 minutes.  If you try to multitask while listening, you may have to watch it again and extend it to 24 minutes - it's YOUR CHOICE.

Watching/Listening Faster

Watching faster can mean a big difference in how much you can learn in a short period.  This can be a great boon to your students' learning as well. Chances are that many of them are doing this already, but they may think it is cheating.  Let them in on this secret.  Try doing it in class so they can see how it works. 

Introduce your students (and yourself) to another way in which you can understand the world.

Have you been speeding up your watching/listening?  Leave a comment about what you have accomplished.

Z

BTW, Speeding up podcasts to make listening more efficient is called PodFasting.  It's a great way to catch up on the podcasts that you missed. Check it out.


Inouye, M. (2016) Can We Speed Listen and Still Understand?

Friday, July 09, 2021

Learn Faster by Watching Faster


 
Videos can be informative but they can take a great deal of time as well. Interestingly enough, you can speed up videos and still understand them. This 1:44 video shows you how to increase the watching speed of YouTube videos. (Try watching it in less than 1:44 😉 )

I watch most informative videos at 1.5x or faster. Obviously, this distorts some of the cinematic aspects of the video but I am interested in the information, not the cinematography.

Z

Wondering how this can affect your understanding, visit my How Does Watching/Listening Faster Affect Learning? post.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Why Students Turn Off their Cameras in Online Classes

Screen with 25 photos of Dr. Z I HATE it when my students turn off their cameras in class!

I didn't select teaching as my role in life to talk to a bunch of boxes on the screen.  I want to talk to my students and see their responses as we venture into new ideas and experiences.

Unfortunately, when we had to move our classes online, educators met with a number of students who didn't turn on their cameras. I have spent the past year presenting OK Zoomer webinars for Higher-Ed and K-12 teachers.  The #1 question they have is "How can I get my students to turn on their cameras?"

Good question.  There are a plethora of solutions. Some answer that question by mandating students to keep their cameras active. This may be unfair because it is an invasion of their privacy.  Other educators build empathy with their students by sharing important it is for them to have the opportunity to have eye contact with their students.  Some instructors give extra credit points to students who show themselves.  

I have been interested in learning about why students turn off their cameras.  This Spring semester, I taught 100 students in three sections through Zoom. At the end of the semester, I asked them to share their reasons for turning off their cameras. I presented them with a list of 14 options and then provided a place where they could provide other reasons. They could select as many reasons as they wanted.

Reasons Why Students Turn Off Their Cameras*

The results were quite interesting.  Out of my 100 students, 69 of them answered the survey. Here are the results of this survey (n=69): 




Survey Results: Why Students Turn Off their Cameras


I have broken these results into 6 groups: Self-Conscious, Technical, Considering Others, Status Quo, Other Activity, and Privacy:


Self-Conscious: Two of the top 3 reasons given indicated that the students are Self-conscious. They didn't want others to see them and they didn't like seeing themselves. They were concerned about being judged. 

Other Activity: They wanted to engage in an activity other than class. Thirty-nine percent of them turned them off because they were eating. That was considerate (especially in my 8:00 class). You will note that the last two reasons involved them getting involved in something else. 

Technical: Technology tends to fail. Almost 1/3 of them had internet problems. Some had webcam problems. The interesting part of this is that I had students contact me apologizing about how they couldn't use their cameras because of technical problems. 

Consider Others: Surprisingly, about 1/5 of the students turned them off because they were concerned that they would distract their classmates or their professor.  The funny thing is that I enjoyed seeing my students and turning them off distracted me.

Status Quo: Everyone else had turned theirs off, so why shouldn't I?  Why did they feel that it should be the status quo?  Did the teacher say it was OK?  Was the class delivered at one-way communication so it didn't seem like they needed to be part of the discussion?  Did the students get together and decide to keep their cameras off?  Don't know.

Privacy: Should students be required to share their surroundings? One-quarter of them didn't want to show other people and 1/5 didn't want to show their surroundings.  These are significant concerns that could be considered.

How Can We Use These Results?

A preliminary analysis indicates that the most popular reasons that our students turn off their cameras have to do with them being Self-Conscious. While it is understandable that students are concerned about how they look and what others think about them, we need to make their learning environment safe and inviting to reduce their anxiety.

The Other Activity reasons were interesting. It is fully understandable for students to turn off their cameras when they are eating. Finding the "not paying attention" reason at the bottom of the pile was a surprise. While that reason is high on my list when I turn off my camera, it wasn't the case with these students. These ratings may indicate that they were learning in an interactive environment. 

Technical problems are everywhere. They have little to do with attitude and everything to do with happenstance. While some situations are unavoidable (e.g., poor web access in the rural areas), other reasons may just be computer problems that can be corrected. (I wrote another posting about Strategies to Optimize Your Zoom Bandwidth earlier.)

Considering Others' distractions is unique. This may indicate an empathy that has developed in a positive community. 

The Status Quo has to do with expectations. The teacher must share their vision for the learning environment with students so they will know how to perform. There is great debate about whether an educator can REQUIRE students to turn on their cameras. Looking into students' homes may be an invasion of privacy. Some teachers encourage their students to share their cameras by: having theme or color days where they dress accordingly; encouraging students to create virtual backgrounds to support the course content; or having interactive discussions that encourage face-to-face interaction. 

Privacy was a big concern when students were forced into online learning. We must pay attention to situations where students don't want to share their home life or companions. It leads us to the problem with requiring students to show their faces. Educators would be more effective if they worked with the student to remedy the situation (e.g., broadcast from the library) than forcing embarassment.

This is Only the Beginning

I am sharing these results with you because it is one of the most often asked questions on educators' minds. I will be analyzing this deeper and submitting it to a refereed journal. Please leave your comments about the research design, my comments, or how these relate to your experiences.

I NEED Your Help Higher Education Educators!!

I am interested in expanding this research to explore students' reactions in other classes.   I am looking for 10 higher education educators who would like to join me.  It may be as simple as having your students complete the survey or we can discuss how this would best address your needs.

Please contact me at Dr. Z with your subject and teaching situation. Put Camera Research in the subject line. 

Have a Great Week!

Z

* This article was edited on 9/16/21 to add the Privacy category.  This was suggested by some readers and it was a valid suggestion.  The numbers were not changed, only the category.








Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Connecting with Students through Opening Questions


The first 5 minutes are the most important part of a class or meeting. The closer students feel to their teacher and learning environment, the more engaged they can be in their learning experience. 

Engaging students while meeting through Zoom can be difficult. the teacher-student separation is widened by the teleconferencing chasm/. It is up to the teacher to create an environment that supports their students' interest in learning.

I have found that the key to connecting with students is to engage them in discussion at the beginning of class.  At first, I would ask them "How are you?" or "What is exciting you this week?"  This was useful for the first few weeks, but I realized that this was a prime opportunity to build community.   

The tough part was developing new questions. My well of creativity quickly ran dry so I Googled "icebreaker questions" and found a fountain of phrases.  I didn't want to ask questions that were too personal but still interesting.  This could be the perfect opportunity to begin class with some Bell Ringers.  Asking a question relevant to what we would be discussing would be an effective way to get things started.

These are the questions I have used throughout this semester.  They are in chronological order. Most of them came from Amber at Learn Grow Blossom.  
  • If you were to write a book, What would be the topic?
  • If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
  • What class do you wish we offered at UNI? Why?
  • How do you help others?
  • Where would you like to travel?
  • What is one thing you could do all day long without stopping?
  • What do you think is your hidden talent?
  • What is your favorite type of music?
  • What is the hardest part about being a kid?
  • Who inspires you?
  • What are 3 things you cannot live without?
  • What Bugs You?
  • When are you MOST creative?
  • What would YOU ask a teacher?
  • What do you like to do outside?
  • If you could travel back in time 3 years and visit your younger self, What advice would you give yourself?
  • Which country would you like your class to collaborate with? What would you like them to do? (preceded a discussion on Global Collaboration)
  • Have you ever used QR codes? How could you use QR codes with your students? (set the stage for our QR Codes lesson.)
  • If you could select a nickname, what would it be?
  • What is your favorite card, board, or computer game?
References

Do Opening Questions Make a Difference?

While I don't have any survey data yet, I have felt a closer connection with my students this semester than in the past. Review the questions that I have asked.  These are questions that unveil interesting information about each student but they don't pry into personal secrets.  My students have told me that they feel a personal connection with me. Mind you, I have never met most of these students in person but we have a connection. Some of them say that they feel closer to me than any of their other professors.

Yes, they DO make a difference!

How are you opening your classes?  What has been your students' reactions to your opening activities?
Share your ideas in the Comment section below.

Z

NOTE: I completed some research where I asked my students about their reaction to this Opening Question Activity.  It will be shared in a future posting and ultimately in an educational research journal.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Take Attendance through your Zoom Chat Room



 

 Taking attendance can be difficult through Zoom.  Your students are on multiple gallery screens and you don't have the time to flip back and forth between screens while you check them off in your grade book.

Taking attendance doesn't need to be difficult.  It can even be fun!

Use your Zoom Chat Room

Use your Chat Room to take attendance. Have your students type "I'm Here" into the chat room and, Viola!, your attendance has been stored in the archives.

                     

Save your Zoom Chat Room

An important part of this process is to save the Chat Room to a file so you can see it later.  

Click the ... box at the bottom right corner of your Chat column (see illustration). Select Save Chat and it will save your chat comments to the Zoom folder that Zoom created on your computer when you started Zooming a year ago. 

Other Ways to Take Attendance

If you are interested in other options, you will find some other postings in Dr. Z Reflects with suggestions:

How do you take attendance?

Z

Thursday, March 04, 2021

How to Update Your Zoom Client Version

I have had many educators and students ask how to update their Zoom client version so that they can use some of the more recent functions like moving between Breakout Rooms. 

This video is for you:


BTW: If your updating fails, you will see "Automatic Update is disabled for Zoom. Ask your IT administrator for Help."  You can contact your IT person or you can try reinstalling Zoom to your computer.  


Monday, February 15, 2021

Dr. Z Loses Power in Zoom Class

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Even though I have made a reputation for teaching other educators how to use Zoom; regardless of the fact that I have been teaching synchronous online classes from my basement for the past 11 months; In spite of the fact that I have been teaching online for over 2 decades; I want you to know that sometimes things go wrong in online classes for me too.

Today, I was just beginning to teach my Ed Tech and Design course through Zoom. I had EVERYTHING prepared. My screen was shared so we could review our schedule and the requirements for the upcoming assignment. I had already spoken with each of my 36 students by asking them the question of the day. Each of my students had already renamed themselves by putting their group numbers at the beginning of their names to make it easier to break them up for their group work later.

Suddenly, my MacBook Air's screen WENT BLANK . . .

My lifeless computer stared back at me as I tried to make sense of the situation. My students were gone and my computer wasn't working. I was cut off from my class. I hadn't checked to ensure that my laptop was charged and it died. My students were left leaderless in my Zoom classroom.

I immediately phoned my Graduate Assistant, Lindsey. She answered quickly My computer connection was cut so I needed to reconnect another way. Lindsey affirmed that they had noticed that I had disappeared. I had not yet made her co-host so hosting had been passed to a student . . . How embarrassing! When Lindsey discovered the host, they asked the new "chief of the class" to make them host.

My computer was busy recharging so I hung up from Lindsey, and signed into Zoom with my phone. This allowed me to address the class to start them with their class activities. The next activity was Breakout Room group work. Lindsey placed them all in groups and sent them on their way to collaboration.

My computer soon regained consciousness. I was able to sign back into Zoom to regain control of my class. Things went well after that.

This was embarrassing, but it was a learning experience as well.

Here are some of my Lessons Learned:
  1. Remember to have your laptop plugged in before you begin class.
  2. Have your laptop charged before class.
  3. Add this plugged in/charged reminder to your checklist. (You may remember that last week I posted my checklist in prep for a Zoom class. You will notice that I have since added this to the list - near the top.)
  4. ALWAYS assign your assistant as Co-Host before class.

John Dewey once said:

"Failure is Instructive.
The person who REALLY THINKS, learns quite as much from their failures as from their successes."

Hopefully, I will REALLY THINK and learn from this in the future.

What about you? Have you ever had this happen to you?


Monday, February 08, 2021

My Educator's Checklist for Successful Zoom Sessions

I have had a number of educators ask me how I prepare for teaching through Zoom.  

Aside from outlining my class session, I have a number of items that I want to remember to ensure a successful class.  Remember that these are what I like to use.  I would be fascinated to hear about the items on your checklist as you move into a Zoom session.

Checklists are incredibly important for presenting an effective session.  Most of us have them in our heads, but it wasn't until I created a written version and hung it on my wall that the checklist really improved the quality of my sessions. This is what I use:

Before Your Zoom Session:

  • Restart Computer (?) - Since most of us are teaching on laptops, it's easy to keep your computer on ALL THE TIME.  Sure, you might put it in Sleep mode every night, but as we work various programs and tabs and ???, it is easy to fill your computer's memory with useless RAM-ivorous memory gobblers. These gobblers can get in the way of your computer running efficiently so it is best to rid your system of them at least once a week. You don't have to restart before each class but reboot your computer at least once a week.
  • Laptop is Plugged-in or Fully Charged - Your computer can die on you in the middle of class. This can lead to your students disappearing from your screen and you disappearing from their Zoom class. This may sound obvious, but I began a class running on my MacBook's battery and it died in the middle of class. I returned in a timely fashion but it was embarassing and interfered with their learning.
  • Close the Door - I am an active teacher who believes that laughing and interacting with my students is an essential part of a good learning situation. This means that I need to close the door so as not to interfere with other people in my house.
  • Fill my Water Glass - You need to be comfortable when you teach so identify the "creature comfort necessities" that you need and ensure that you have them all at hand.
  • Pad of Paper and Pen - I use Notes and Google Keep for notes, but I still seem to need to have a pad of paper for quick notes. Using a couple of notebooks which are each divided into 5 parts, I can organize my notes by topic.  It's always good to have a couple of pens available.
  • Check the Mic and Camera - I use the camera on my laptop, but I always try to clean the lens using an eyeglass cleaning cloth before class.  I have an external mic so I check the USB connection and test the quality of my recording.  If you are running multiple cameras, plug them all into your computer.
  • Check for Host/Cohost - Usually, when you begin your Zoom session, you are the host by default. Don't Assume ANYTHING! Today, 10 minutes into class, I found that I wasn't hosting.  NO ONE was host. I don't remember how, but I had to sign-in again to claim Hostdom.
  • Add your Assistant as Cohost - My Graduate Assistant, Lindsey, is a valuable support person. Your support people should be your cohost.  ALERT: If your assistant is going to organize your breakout rooms, they MUST be made the HOST and you take on the role of CO-HOST.
  • Label the Breakout Rooms - It is easier if you already have the breakout rooms labeled if you are going to be manually putting students in breakout rooms or you will allow them to enter their own.
  • Turn Off Breakout Rooms Timer - Zoom's capability to time a breakout room meeting is useful. Unfortunately, it has caused some of my Breakouts to end prematurely. I have had 15-minute meetings end in 8 minutes because the timer had been set to 8 minutes and I hadn't changed it.  The WORSE PART of this is that there is no way to change the time setting once the meeting has started. PLEASE FIX THIS ZOOM. Until then, I try to just turn off the timer.
  • Test Sharing Your Screen - Test your processes like Sharing Screens before class. It is too easy for this to be a problem and roadblock in the class.
  • Test your Presentation - If you are using a slide show to supplement/guide your class, you MUST test this before class begins.  Thoughtfully go through your presentation as a presentation to ensure that all of the videos work and the animation provides the effect that you planned.
  • Preload Links into Tabs - Linking to other websites is an important function of my slides.  Often it takes a long time to load.  This causes an unwanted delay. Preloading these sites to various Chrome tabs is a good way to reduce potential delays.
In Session:
  • Start Recording - I usually ask a student or my Graduate Assistant to help me remember to record each class session, but there are times when that doesn't work either.  Keep it on your checklist.

After Session:
  • Save your Chat - Chats hold important information.  It is possible to set your settings so that your class's chats are saved automatically, but ALWAYS save your chats.
  • Convert your Recording - You have to quit Zoom to convert your class session recording, but it is best if you do this immediately after your class. I don't know what the formula is to compute how long it will take to convert your recording, but my hour-long sessions usually take about 15 minutes to convert.  
  • Save your Converted Recording to Google Drive - I save my recordings to my computer and then copy them to Google Drive so that students can access them. Last week, I realized that I can tell Zoom where to save the converted file.  Turns out that I can direct it specifically to my Google Drive. This saves a lot of time because I don't have to do it separately after it is save on my computer harddrive.
  • Include a Link from my LMS folder to a Recording - Making a recording of your class sessions is not useful unless you have a link for your students to follow it.  I have a specific place in my LMS system where my students can go to find the link.     

Thursday, January 21, 2021

9 Strategies to Optimize your Zoom Bandwidth

ARRRRRGH!  

My Zoom is SO SLOW!

Ever heard that?  Ever felt that? Watching your zoom session freeze up or listening to your students' garbled talk because your throughput is too slow is frustrating. 

It's NOT a Zoom problem. It's your Throughput.

Throughput is a combination of bandwidth and computer speed. Bandwidth may be out of your control. But there are strategies that you can take to optimize how fast your system runs once the signal enters your home.

Whether the bandwidth slowdown is on your computer or on your students' computers, here are nine strategies to speed up your throughput:

Turn Off Your Camera - This is the easiest step of all. Streaming video is 10 times the data load of streaming voice (Abbott, T, 2020) It has been suggested that muting yourself will even save few bits as well.  This option is the one that is most disliked by teachers because we want to interact with our students - but sometimes the elements require it.

Close EVERYTHING Else - Run Zoom by itself. Having other programs open while running Zoom will steal your computer's processing power and slow down your Zoom experience.

Reboot Your Computer - This may sound drastic, but it is the only way that you can ensure that you don't have any other programs running. Actually, it is a good idea to reboot your computer at least once a week to refresh your system.

Delete Programs You Never Use - You must keep 15-20% of your hard drive empty. Your computer uses your hard drive to create temporary files and swap them as it works. If there isn't enough empty space, the process becomes a little more complicated and can slow down your Zoom session. 

Move Closer to your Router - Wifi is a fickle pickle. When your computer is near your router, the signal is stronger.  As you move away, the signal becomes weaker and your bandwidth is slower. Moving closer to your router doesn't have to mean that you have to move to the basement. You can sit in a room directly above your router and the wifi will travel through the floor.

Check for Viruses - Viruses are designed to cause trouble for your computer. A strong indicator that you might have a virus of seeing your computer slow down. Infection can usually be prevented by using antivirus software to filter what enters your computer.  You can use these programs to remove invaders or you can take your computer to the repair shop.

Is Your Software Version Up-to-Date? - Improving technology is an ongoing process. Zoom released an average of about 10 minor version updates each month for the last half of 2020. Not all of them were significant changes, but it becomes increasingly important to stay current.

You can check how current your Zoom version is by clicking on your profile (upper-right corner of your opening page). A menu will appear (see image) and the Check for Updates option is the ninth one down. Zoom usually checks for updates when it opens, and often it installs the updates for you. If your Zoom doesn't seem to be doing this, check with your IT department.

Your operating system is important too. Microsoft releases major updates for Windows twice a year with minor updates every month (on Patch Tuesday). Apple releases a major update once a year in October and then minor updates every few months.  Keep your system updated.

Is Your Computer Ancient? - You should expect to replace your computer every 3 - 4 years. The hardware may still function, but technology is developing rapidly and your computer may not have what it needs to run Zoom.  

Is Your Router Sufficient? - Routers are advancing just a quickly as all other technologies. If your connection is slow, it might mean that you are in the market for a new router. Talk with your Internet service about this. You can get a new router sufficient for your home for under $100. 

I hope that you have found this helpful. Please tell me which strategies work for you. 

Let's Connect with Our Students!


P.S. Of course, I have found more strategies. Instead of having to keep updating the number in the title, I will just add these ideas down here along with who shared them.

10. Keep your virtual desktop clear.  Similar to keeping your drive clear, having a load of icons scattered around your desktop provides more load on your processor to deal with them.  (Thanks, Jeffrey Zeitz)

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Using Zoom on a Phone or Tablet

Using Zoom on a laptop computer can be easy.  If you are attending a class, you just need to enter the class and engage in what your teacher has planned for you. 

But what if you have to use your phone or tablet?  How can you do all of the operations that are required in an engaging class?   Is it possible to TEACH through Zoom on a phone or tablet?

The answer is FOR THE MOST PART - YES!!!  Most of the commands that you can do on a computer can be achieved on your mobile device.

Here is a list Mobile Zoom commands. (Warning, this was tested on an iPhone.  Android and iPhone apps are virtually the same, but if you find that this doesn't work on your Android, please leave a comment or contact me at @zeitz)

These commands are presented in the order that we are presenting these actions in our OK Zoomer: Beyond the Basics workshop.  It is a workshop that has been enjoyed by over 2200 faculty members so you should check it out.

Mute and Unmute Yourself

  1. Tap the icon in lower-left corner.

How to Enter Chat

  1. Tap in the lower-right corner.

  2. Tap Chat in the menu.

Hide Non-Video Participants

  1. Tap in the lower-right corner.

  2. Tap Meeting Settings in the menu.

  3. Deselect the slide bar for Show Non-Video Participants.

Share Screen> Advanced>Music Or Computer Sound Only
  1. Tap Share Screen in the menu.
  2. Tap Screen.
  3. Tap Start Broadcast.
  4. Tap the screen.
  5. Share Device Audio: should be On.
  6. Move to your music application.

Rename Yourself

  1. Tap on Participants
  2. Tap on your name.
  3. Tap on Rename.

Opening Green Screens

  1. Tap the in the lower right corner.

  2. Tap Virtual Background

  3. Tap the desired background

Adding Green Screens

  1. Tap the + button in the lower-right corner.

  2. You might see a screen asking you to give Zoom access to your photos,  

    1. Tap the Change Settings button

    2. Tap Photos

    3. Tap All Photos or Selected Photos

    4. You will have to rejoin Zoom

  3. Tap the + button again in the lower right corner.

  4. Select the photo you want to use as a background.

  5. It should appear on your background and be added to your collection.


I hope that you find this useful. I will be updating these commands as time progresses.

Z

Friday, January 15, 2021

Taking Attendance using Zoom Reports

Welcome to the World of Online Learning!!!

We have SO MANY opportunities in our online classes, but there are still administrative duties that we have to complete.  One of those seemingly trivial but important tasks is Taking Attendance.  How can we do that?

In our regular, face-to-face class, we can create a seating chart and then just check off the empty desks on the chart.  Unfortunately, in Zoom (and other online networks) seating charts aren't available.  Therefore we must find some other ways to take attendance.  

I have tried a number of interesting strategies for taking attendance.  We have used QR codes that lead to Google Forms.  We have had students type "Here" in the Chat Room and saved the Chat Room for later review.  Sometimes we have taken screen captures of the students in who are in class for later reference. We have even tried having all of the students wait in the waiting room and checking off the attendance sheet before admitting them.

HOLD ON!!! I have found the SUPERIOR method for taking attendance!! 
Use the Zoom Reports feature!!

While this may seem like an obvious answer to the task, not too many people know about the extensive Zoom Reports that are available.  They tell you WHO attended, WHEN they joined, WHEN they left AND the content can be exported to a spreadsheet.

Instructions on How to Take Attendance during a Zoom Class

Access the Settings on Your Zoom Web Portal. 

  • Access this through the zoom.us website address used by your school, or you can access it from your profile on your Zoom Client App. 
    • Select Settings and then View More Settings.
    • If you don't see the left-hand column when you access More Settings, widen your window to full screen. Zoom doesn't show the left column is the window where it is displaying is too narrow. 


Select Reports
in the left column. (If you don't see the left-hand column, widen your window to full screen. Zoom doesn't show the left column if the displaying window is too narrow.)


Click Usage
and it will open a list of reports generated for meetings between specific dates.  
  • Select the dates to find the report you want.


Click on the Number of Participants
for your desired meeting to view the class list. It should be blue.



Attendance List: You will find a list of all of those who attended.  It will tell you when they started, when they ended, and how many minutes they were there.  This can be exported to a spreadsheet in .CSV format if you want to alphabetize the names or store them for later reference.

There you have it.  Have you tried this before?  If not, give it a shot and tell us how it worked.
How have YOU been taking attendance with your online classes?

Z

ATTENTION:  I just learned that the Canvas LMS team learned about this option and they have built it into their attendance system.  I don't know anything more than that, but look into it.  Blackboard hasn't shown the foresight to incorporate it into their system.    2/15/21

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Dr. Z's Guide to Teaching Using Zoom Breakout Rooms

 

One of the most important but often most daunting tools is the Zoom Breakout Room.  

The concept of Zoom Breakout Rooms is not difficult.  They can be the same as small group discussion in a physical classroom setting. 

The trick is which option to use for setting them up and then understanding the tips and tricks for running them smoothly.

This guide provides an easy-to-understand description of Zoom Breakout Rooms basics.  It has been updated to include the new 3rd option where students can select rooms on their own.

This will be followed up with a booklet on the pedagogical uses of Zoom Breakout Rooms to suggest a plethora of learning opportunities that can be provided using them. 

Click Here to Open the Guide.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Dr. Z's 20 Zoom Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac and Windows

Click Here to Access the Whole Zoom Keyboard Shortcuts


ZOOM IS AWESOME!!

Right?  It enables you to connect with colleagues, family, students, teachers, customers, and everyone else.  You can attend online classes through Zoom. You can participate in virtual conferences and conventions.  You can even attend church with your friends and family (or anywhere in the world.)

As exciting as Zoom may be, it can be overwhelming.  There are SOOOO many buttons to click and menus to use.  Unmute me. Stop my video. Raise my hand. Share my screen. Jump to the next screen of participants. It can be TOO MUCH!!! It would be much easier if we just knew the Magic Keys to press to make things happen.           

At least that is what I was thinking . . .

I searched everywhere for a table of these commands.  I wanted it for my Mac but many of my students use Windows so I wanted both.  Zoom had lists of commands.  Many websites contained their own lists of commands, but I wanted a TABLE.  That's how I think.

So . . . I created a Table of Zoom Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac and Window

There was much to learn while I collected these shortcuts.  Did you know that:
  • if you are muted, you only have to press the SPACE BAR to temporarily unmute yourself?
  • you can raise or lower your hand using Alt-Y (on both platforms)?
  • you can show/hide the chat room using Command-Shift-H (or Alt-H on Windows)?
  • on Windows, you can flip between pages of participants using PageDown or PageUp?
  • Windows uses the F6 to flip between Zoom Windows.  This is great when you have too many open windows on your screen and get lost.  Hit F6 a few times and you will get where you want to be.
You will notice that the letters used for each command are the same on both platforms.  Windows usually uses the Alt key.  Mac uses the Alt key too, but it is also labeled as Option.

I am still on the lookout for some keyboard shortcuts:
  • Zoom Window Navigation shortcut on my Mac.
  • Flip between Gallery View and Active Speaker shortcut on my Mac.
  • Rename shortcut for either platform
  • Hide Non-Video Participants shortcut as well. 
Readers: Do you know any of these shortcuts?  if so, send me a note and I will include them.

ZOOM VIDEO CORP . . . CAN YOU HEAR ME?   Please expand your Zoom Keyboard Shortcuts using some of these suggestions.  You have an incredible product and we just want to help you make it better.

Z