08 Aug TeachersLearnTech: Choosing the Ideal Background for Online Video Conference Instruction

Introduction

Due to an ongoing once-in-a-century pandemic, there’s no longer the easy summer avoidance of in-person classes. Whether you are a grade-school teacher, a small group facilitator, or even a university professor, you’ve had your livelihood completely turn upside down. And now, you are expected to deliver a similar level of excellence over Zoom in your teaching. No pressure, right?

There’s a lot one can learn about someone from their webcam background. The backdrop behind you for your next web conference or Microsoft Teams meeting may make the difference between your teaching being a hit or a disaster.

Platform Capabilities

Let’s first determine the capabilities of each platform you might use.

Zoom allows you to create a virtual background.. As a Zoom user, you are able to display images and even videos behind you. They are currently free to use. You can download additional options, created by household names like Disney, Fox, and the Hallmark Channel.

Cisco Webex has something similar. They allow you to also blur your webcam background, as a way of disguising the less-than-appealing view. Webex also lets you use your favorite SnapChat filters with the help of Snap Camera.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Even Microsoft Teams offers great background templates, including the possibility of live captions. And Google Meet even gives you the feature of a Jamboard for whiteboard scribbling.

Online Students

Webcam Background Choices

There’s no wrong choice necessarily for a background. Of course, you should use good judgment and keep any scandalous imagery to a minimum. But there is a lot of leeway for what you want your students to see behind you.

Think about a background that can supplement the topic you’re teaching. Have it match a theme that your students can join in on, in order to add both active learning and entertainment value to boot. You could also consider using the colors and logo of your institution, as a way to reinforce school spirit, like the folks did here at USC. You can even upload a picture of a lecture hall or a library if you really wanted to convey a very academic feel.

Whatever you choose, be intentional about what your webcam background says about you, your teaching style, your audience, and your content. Understand the context in which you are having a class over a video conference. Take advantage of this very unique circumstance in human history to experiment and see what will captivate students’ attention and maximize their retention.

Conclusion

As more background templates come out, keep yourself updated by regularly browsing for innovative creations. Just because you’re not tech-savvy doesn’t mean you can’t teach effectively online. Let the beauty of technology and the light-heartedly common norms of mass video meetings  give you freedom to make teaching a visually engaging experience. In many ways, you are able to complement your teaching with video and image than you could in a brick-and-mortar classroom.

For additional advice on picking the latest background image, think of us at Thoughtlight. We’d be happy to make your technology and teaching a smooth partnership.

 

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