Hybrid Teaching III: The Last Iteration
We’re four weeks in our course now, and we iterated to a setup that seems to work for us. Fun and interactive, easy to follow at home and challenging yet doable for the lecturer.
Don’t know where we’re coming from? When we started off (part I), we designed a quite nifty setup for hybrid teaching. And it worked, but also came with new learnings (part II). In this blog we’ll describe our latest findings and tweaks.
We ditched the iPhone-on-a-stick and created a throwable mic. The Dice turns out to be a nice way to get the mic to the audience, so questions are also clearly audible at home.
It’s actually a cheap foam dice of 16x16 cm I bought online. I cut it open at ‘5’, made a bit of an open space in there, cut a small hole at the ‘1’, put the little Boya mic in there with the wire to the hollow space where I put in the transmitter unit. Didn’t even need to close it off, since the cut is closing itself.
When the lecturer throws it to the student that has a question, all eyes will intuitively follow the dice and all attention will end up at the questioning student. So next to a microphone it’s working as an attention-aiming-device. Convenient collateral benefit!
Throwing and catching is also a playful activity. Some lecturers and students are not really skilled in the pitching an catching, but that’s also training us to have an open atmoshere, aiming for learning and cherishing failure. It’s fun and helping to open up.
We aim the Room Overview Cam at the diced student as good as we can, and that covers for quite some part of the room.
Some people think they recognize the Dice, but then mostly refer to another product, the CatchBox, that is much more professional and expensive. If you want that with an extra microphone, I think it’ll easily cost over a 1000 euro’s. It’s probably better, but here, good is good enough. Our whole audio setup is 120 euro’s all together.
Lecturers are getting more used to the Obsbot, and are getting familiar with the do’s — confidently use gestures to handle it - and dont’s, for example walking into the audience in the back of the room too far. Next to that, it’s important to make a bit of rapport with the people at home, just by looking into the cam now and then. That’s fully mechanic behaviour, because there of course is nothing to see there. You actually need to train lecturers a bit beforehand, and make them comfortable with our robostalker.
We connect the Obsbot video to the moderator’s computer to not have the lecturers’ computer be over-asked and to make configuration a bit less complex. But since the audio is going through the lecturers’ computer to prevent for resonance, sound and video are not always perfectly synced. That needs some rethinking.
Having a moderator is crucial when doing hybrid. She or he will make sure the audio works in Zoom and the lecturer and Dice are working and clearly audible.
She can aim the Meetme at the student that asks a question using the Remote Control. And if the Obsbot has lost track with reality, she will notice and aim it at the lecturer manually and see if it get’s back on track or warn the lecturer to do some gesturing and again seduce it to follow him or her.
She will also make sure questions from the chat are taken into account and people that want to pose a question in Zoom are getting a well-timed podium for that. Next to that, she will take care of recording the sessions. Bottom line: don’t go hybrid without a skilled moderator.
The Zoom session on the middle screen
To not only look at anonymous rectangles of people at home, it’s a practical idea to use the Zoom setting that shows only people who have their camera on. And then you’ll find that students at home are a bit hesitant to do so, so you explicitly need to ask them after every break.
So this is the setup. It takes about 20 minutes to properly set it up, cabling the devices and fixing all settings in Zoom and in operating systems.
Do you have any ideas or experiences worth sharing? Please drop me a comment and I’ll get back to you!
Thanks to Maaike Dijkstra and Ariele Empirio for setting up every friday!