This year, schools all across the country are experimenting with eLearning. But setting up a virtual classroom can be complex—especially for someone who’s new to the process. That's why we put together this handy guide to show you how to create a virtual classroom using popular software like Zoom, Google Meet and Skype. Ready for your first lesson?
Find the Right Room
Just like with in-person learning, your classroom environment plays an important role in the learning process. With the flexibility of teaching remotely, you have the freedom to set up shop anywhere you want. You can even lecture on-location from a museum or library to make use of additional resources.
Wherever you set up your virtual classroom, we recommend the following guidelines:
- Find a space with minimal distractions. You won’t be able to prevent every disturbance, but setting up in a quiet space—away from noisy housemates, neighbors and traffic—will help ensure a smooth session.
- Set up in a room with plenty of space. Even though you’re teaching remotely, you shouldn’t be tethered to your computer. Set up in a room with enough space for any tools or teaching aids you may need, like a white board or 3D model.
- Make sure you have a strong internet connection. For a smooth experience, set up as close to your Wi-Fi router as possible, or connect directly with an Ethernet cable to ensure a reliable connection with no dropouts.
- Check for power outlets. Between your computer, camera and other devices, you’re going to need plenty of power to keep your batteries charged. Make sure you have access to a three-prong outlet and a power strip to support all of your devices.
Blue USB microphones are plug-and-play on Mac and PC and deliver clear, focused sound.
Setting Up the Mic
Once you set up your teaching space, it’s time to power up your computer and connect any virtual classroom equipment you’re going to use. While it may be convenient to use your computer’s built-in microphone, it may be difficult for students to hear you clearly.
Built-in computer microphones are omnidirectional, meaning they pick up sound from all directions—including unwanted background noise that could cause distractions during class. Plus, these microphones often sound harsh, shrill or unpleasant.
USB microphones like the Blue Yeti, Yeti Nano and Snowball iCE deliver clear, focused sound, making it easier for students to understand you. Best of all, every Blue USB microphone is plug and play on Mac and PC, making them easy to set up and connect to your school’s software of choice.
To set up your USB microphone, follow these steps:
- Connect the USB cable to your computer. Your video conferencing software should automatically recognize the microphone. If not, simply navigate to audio preferences in your conferencing software and select your USB microphone as the audio input.
- Adjust the microphone so it’s roughly 6-12 inches from your face, with the grille angled up towards your mouth.
- Start speaking and slowly increase the microphone volume (not the headphone volume) until your voice sounds loud and clear. Make sure the meters don’t turn red!
Logitech USB webcams stream crystal-clear video so your students can see every detail.
Setting Up the Camera
Most laptops and smartphones feature built-in cameras, but they’re not ideal for eLearning. Built-in laptop cameras offer limited resolution, making it difficult to see details or read text on a white board. They’re also in a fixed position, angled up at your face—which is no one’s most flattering angle.
Thankfully, setting up a USB webcam is a quick and easy way to solve these problems. Logitech offers a wide range of webcams that are perfect for virtual classrooms, like the versatile StreamCam, the BRIO with 4K resolution and the C930E, which offers a wide field of view help recreate an authentic classroom setting.
Just like with a USB microphone, all you need to do is connect the USB cable to your computer and your video conferencing software should automatically recognize the new webcam. If not, open preferences and select the webcam from the dropdown menu.
Follow these steps for a crisp, clear image:
- If possible, sit facing a big window. One big mistake most people make is sitting in front of a window, which makes your face look dark and difficult to see.
- Think about your background. Make sure there’s nothing too distracting (or boring) behind you that might detract from your discussion.
- Place your webcam at eye-level to simulate the effect of talking face-to-face with your students.
- Position yourself in the middle of the frame, with your face taking up one-third of the space.
Setting Up the Software
Depending on where you teach, you may be required to use certain web conferencing software. Thankfully, all of the most popular options, including Zoom, Google Meet and Skype, work seamlessly with USB microphones and webcams.
Before starting your class, take a moment to test the microphone levels and camera image to make sure everyone can hear and see you clearly. You may also want to test out any additional features like screen sharing or virtual white boards, as well as any third-party software. To record your class or lecture, simply press the record button in your web conferencing app.
Follow these steps when setting up your virtual classroom to ensure a seamless teaching experience. For more information on eLearning and remote education, check out our blog.