- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal, recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching from the UC Davis Academic Senate, is sharing tips and protocol on how to web-conference with ZOOM.
Leal is a distinguished professor with the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now Department of Entomology and Nematology).
Web-conferencing is in keeping with the UC Davis directives: "For lectures and discussion sections, instruction will be offered through remote means, such as web conferencing (e.g., Zoom), lecture capture, Canvas tools and other methods. Instructors can continue to find resources for these alternative methods of instruction on the Keep Teaching website. For courses that have lab, studio, clinical, rehearsal and similar learning activities, we strongly encourage instructors to devise methods of remote instruction that make it possible for the courses to still be offered. We recognize that there may be some courses where remote components are simply not feasible. In these cases, departments should make every effort to offer alternative remote-instruction courses that still help students make degree progress, or in cases where alternatives are not possible, develop strategies to offer the students the courses at some future time."
Leal began working with remote presentations in 2001, soon after the 9/11 attacks.
"Because I was unable to attend in-person a conference in Italy--and give the open lecture--soon after Sept. 11, I started working with remote presentations. Back then, we used NetMeeting; for the last few years, things became more user-friendly with ZOOM. "Some of my colleagues have never used it, so I thought I would share my thoughts."
If they are going to use ZOOM for teaching, Leal says, here are a few suggestions:
- Record a short presentation of the topic to be covered in a lecture and share with students in advance
- During the regular time of the class, have students log in via ZOOM (use the same meeting ID to make it for students) to answer questions, add more information, and solve problems (if applicable)
- Record ZOOM session and share the material with students. They are back home, and not all of them will be in the Pacific Time Zone.
- If possible, use an internet cable for your connection; if using WiFi at home, ask others in your household to avoid streaming video during the lecture
- Have another person help with the chat room and to open the microphone to students (if applicable)
- If you allow students to ask questions via audio (not chat), the presentation becomes more engaging. There is a caveat. If their microphones do not work, students lose attention.
- Test the microphone of 2-3 students before the session starts. When you have questions, you might start with them, so that encourages others to get engaged
- Do not allow videos upon log-in; you'll see more than you need and the video may become a distraction to you;
- You can switch on a participant video whenever you want; a second person may be helpful here.
- Use a camera other than the built-in camera on your computer; make eye contact with it; think of it as your students' eyes
Leal was named the recipient of the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award earlier this year. Colleague James R. Carey, distinguished professor of entomology, described him as an exceptional instructor. "His exceptionalism is derived from his dedication to student learning, his innovation in content delivery, his engagement with students (including his always-clever touches of humor), and his ability to both motivate them and incentivize their investment in studies. All of these efforts rest on the deep foundation of the disciplinary authority that he brings to the classroom as an eminent basic and applied biochemist, a stature that his students clearly recognize...Walter is a natural teacher who not only speaks with a voice of great authority in the classroom, but with the voice of a person who cares deeply about student learning."