More fun with online teaching
Updated: May 7, 2021
Some of us are back to full online teaching (or dual-mode) and perhaps want to make the experience more entertaining for ourselves and our students. There are several ways to accomplish it, but here is one that allows you to take greater control over what students see in their Zoom video feed. Manycam [I have no stake in the company and paid full for my license] is one of virtual camera software products available [OBS is another] that allows user to create a virtual camera feed and choose what to show in it. Here a big shout-out to Hart Posen from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who alerted me to this software!
Manycam has lots of options, too many to mention here, but my favorite functionalities are:
you can share your screen or presentation without actually having to share the screen in Zoom - you don't have to switch between sharing screen and your video
Your video feed can still be visible when sharing the slides
display a clock, timer, or stopwatch - great way to manage breaks
add lower third to your video or school logo!
Very nice implementation of virtual backgrounds that allows for replacement, blurring, and removal of your video background
finally, in connection with software that allows to share your tablet screen, you don't need multiple Zoom accounts to connect several devices to your Zoom call.
I would start with at least two setups for your video feed - one is your regular view, where you can add your name and title (like on the image below). The second one is a slide where you share your presentation on the right and place your camera feed and other information on the left. Here is where the standard 4:3 slide size works much better. If you are using wide slides, you can embed your camera feed in the right upper or lower corner. Just make sure it won't obstruct the content.
One extra setting is for breaks. I use a countdown clock to show participants when does the break end. There are many other creative solutions and I am sure you will have lots of fun with it. It can break the monotony of Zoom sessions very nicely.
Recently I started to use Letsview to share the screen of my MS Surface tablet to my desktop computer. This allows me to avoid having multiple Zoom account to share slides and write on them. Now I connect with my desktop and feed everything (slides, tablet, websites, videos, second camera, etc.) to Manycam. Switching between different screen setups is super easy.