Setting Up a Home Office for Online Learning
What you will be able to do after this section:
- Translate appropriate studio preparations to your own home or space
- Recognize ways to strengthen telecommunication delivery
Just as you would set up your face-to-face classroom prior to the start of each class, it is equally important to do the same for you online class. Appearance, sound, and visual aspects of video correspondence significantly impact how information is delivered and received.
When preparing your home studio or office for online teaching, take the time to explore the ways in which sound carries in your space. A common issue that must be mitigated is reverberation, or echo. It is important to reduce reverberation as much as possible to ensure that your voice is clear to your students. One tactic for lessening the echo in your space is to use soft fabrics, such as towels or blankets. Since hard surfaces such as walls, floors, and windows enhance reverberation, consider covering them with heavy curtains, rugs, and quilts. These softer materials will absorb the sound and provide better acoustics for your space.
Many computers and laptops are enabled with built-in microphones, though you may use a headset or lavalier microphone. Consider where the microphone is placed and how it may impact your delivery. Best practice for microphone placement is at least 12” from the mouth and out of camera view. This position prevents the face from being blocked and avoids breath noise interference. Keep an eye out for unwanted noise such as keyboard sounds, rubbing the microphone cable, or banging on the desk area. If it’s possible, reduce outside noises such as HVAC or other mechanical sounds, as they create distractions from your video. Other distracting noises can be created by phones, fans, or house pets as well. Plan to test these variables prior to your official recording session.
Lastly, there are several benefits to using headphones while you record. Your participants may be using headphones to listen in, so it is recommended that you review a sample recording as a sound check with them as well. Consider using headphones or earbuds throughout your session to ensure you can successfully hear what participants are saying. Remember that traditional computer speakers tend to ruin sound by bleeding noise into the microphone.
Before you start video taping with a camera, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I centered on the screen?
- Are my eyes level with the camera?
- Do I notice any background distractions?
- Am I too close or too far from the camera?
References and Resources
Epiphan Video: 5 steps to create the ultimate lecture recording studio
Mader, Cheryl, & Ming, Kavin. (2015). Videoconferencing: A new opportunity to facilitate learning. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 88(4), 109–116. Original Articles, Routledge.