Feeling More Confident Online
Helpful hints when "Hanging Out"
Students frequently feel concerned that they are "awkward" and "unnatural" when recording themselves as part of a online video conference. Here are a few helpful tips for ways to relax and focus on the learning in these situations.
Like any good classroom conversation, the best thing is to come prepared. Preparation for an in-class conversation might include having your readings available, notes prepared and discussion questions written out. This isn't because you should READ your answers aloud, but instead so that you can reference your notes and have some inital thoughts outlined before you come.
*A related tip is to create a Google Hangout discussion document. You can build that document before, during and after your Hangout on Air. That document then can serve as a place to send viewers who couldn't join you, as a place to share resources with each other for future use, and also comes in handy if the group is simultaneously live tweeting their Hangout, which happens frequently.
Make sure you have your "command center" set up for the Hangout before going live. Have your computer tested, your sound adjusted, your papers set and a good lighting and desk area. Make sure you have good headphones and have tested the quality of sound on your microphone. If you are typing, Google Hangout automatically mutes you, so it is best not to type and talk. Also, make sure to adjust the camera and that it is directed to your face, or disable the camera so that a profile photo shows. This makes the hangout seem more professional and less ad hoc.
Once you have things set up and you're ready to record, take a deep breath and review your goals for the session. Goals can be outcomes for the discussion, important points you want to raise that are in your notes, or goals about how you will listen or affirm the work of your other discussants.
Coming prepared will allow you to try to be present in the conversation. Again, like face to fact communication, making eye contact, listening and not allowing yourself to lose connection with your peers is important. Sometimes wi-fi signals are weak or there can be delays in the conversation because of that, you have to be comfortable with some discomfort, patient, and allow the conversation to unfold. This requires practices of mindfulness - practices that allow you to be a good conversationalist.
Mute Mics and Disable Cameras
Sometimes if you have a large group or if one participant is giving a mini-presentation as part of the Google Hangout, you might want to use the mute feature. This will reduce the bandwidth you are using. The same goes for disabling cameras. If bandwidth or connections are bad, you can simply turn off your camera. Your fellow video conferences will be able to hear you, but not see you. It is best to make sure you have a good photo of yourself that will show and indicate to your viewers/listeners who is speaking when you join in. This should just be your profile photo.
Ultimately, you want to bring your best self to these presentations. We all hate listening to ourselves recorded and feel awkward watching ourselves on video (well, all of us who aren't the people who LOVE to see themselves on camera). Practicing often is the best way to learn this technology. Repeated use will help you to feel more yourself and less performative.