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Anyone who’s been in a virtual classroom knows that audio and video quality can vary widely—and that they both have a major effect on the learning environment. Some of your classmates might be shrouded in shadow, making it impossible to read their expressions (or even tell if they’re awake), while others might have their webcam positioned so it’s looking right up their nose. Some of your peers might sound quiet or muffled, while others might come across loud and clear—along with every other noise in their house.
Being seen and heard clearly is vital to remote learning. Instructors need to be able to gauge their students’ expressions and body language, and students need to be able to communicate questions and thoughts. But your audio and video quality doesn’t just have an effect on the lesson, it also says a lot about you.
USB microphones and webcams can make a big improvement to your audio and video quality, but sometimes, you just have to work with what you’ve got—so this article will focus on how to look and sound your best without spending a penny. This article will assume you have at least a laptop with a built-in webcam and microphone, but many of these tips will be just as applicable with a smartphone-based setup, or if you already own an external webcam or microphone.
Identifying the specific problems you're facing will help you address them with targeted solutions.
First, take stock of your current setup and identify anything that’s less than ideal. Start by turning on your webcam and seeing how you look to others.
Next, test your sound quality. Since you can’t always hear your own voice on a video call, you may not be aware if your microphone quality is subpar. Fortunately, most apps feature a way to record a short test. Here’s how to do it on four major platforms:
Now, listen back to your test recording. Can you hear every word clearly, or do you sound quiet or muffled? Is your room making you sound echoey, distant or harsh?
Understanding what audio and video issues you’re facing will help you make targeted changes to fix specific issues, rather than blindly tweaking a bunch of settings and hoping for better results.
Video quality issues typically fall into one of two categories: software settings you can with a few clicks, or lighting and framing issues that require physical adjustments in the room. You can change video settings globally from your operating system’s control panel or within the settings menu of your app of choice, but it’s best to check both places just to be sure. Here’s how to quickly fix a few common issues:
Good audio quality is critical for effective remote learning.
Just like with video, sound problems can be caused by improper software settings or real-world acoustical factors. Again, you can change audio settings from your operating system’s control panel or via the settings menu in your app of choice. Be sure to look in both places to find the root of the problem. When it comes to acoustical problems, you may have to try a few different setups before you find the right sound. Here’s how to correct some of the most common sound problems:
Hopefully, this guide has helped you improve your video and audio quality and achieve better communication in your virtual classroom. If you’re looking to upgrade to even higher quality, we recommend Blue Snowball and Yeti Nano USB microphones for pristine sound, as well as the Logitech StreamCam for high-res video.
For more on how to improve your remote learning experience, check out these articles: