Having a good camera setup is important for teaching online because it helps to create a professional and engaging learning experience for your students. When students see you clearly it helps to establish a sense of presence and connection, present material in a visually appealing way, and make your lessons more engaging and effective.
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of teaching via video call. The right lighting can help you look your best and be more visible to your students. There are a few things to keep in mind when setting up your lighting:
- Most of the light must come from behind the camera and be directed at you.
- If the back of the room is too dark or you can see shadows behind you, set up a second source of light to slightly highlight your background.
- Avoid setting the light straight in front of you. It will make your face look flat and unappealing. It is best to move the light just a bit to the side, creating soft shadows and making your face look more three-dimensional.
- If possible, use natural light. If you are near a window, open the curtains or blinds and let the light in.
- If you are using artificial light, consider using a lamp that will provide softer, more diffused light.
The second most important aspect of looking good on a video call is how high you set up your camera.
If you are using the built-in camera of your laptop it’s likely that the camera is looking at you from the bottom. This way you are looking down on your students and they get to enjoy the view of your nostrils and “double chin”.
To fix this you can use a laptop stand to lift the camera to eye level or buy an external webcam. The latter might also improve the quality of the video since most built-in laptop cameras are not that great.
Avoid putting the camera too high as it will make you look small and your students will mostly look at your forehead.
Look at the camera
While it might feel weird at first, try to look at the camera when you are talking to students. It gives a feeling that you care about them and watch them, which might help with keeping younger students more disciplined.
If the video from your own camera is distracting you, try to turn it off during the lesson. After you set up the video call and made sure your students can see you, of course. Some teachers I worked with reported that this simple trick helps them to lower fatigue after a long day in front of the camera.
Record and review your lessons
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. Every time you make changes to your setup or attire, record a lesson and review it afterward to see if those changes working for you or not.
Keep improving your online lesson delivery and enjoy better feedback from your students.