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Teaching from Home



I've started teaching some of my Printmaking and Book Arts classes online, an arrangement that I can see lasting at least into autumn, possibly beyond. The photo shows my setup: materials arranged on the cutting mat, laptop to my left on which I host the Zoom session for ten people, a ring light on a tripod for illumination, and my phone (mounted in the centre of the ring light) relaying a live feed of the table into the Zoom session, so the participants can see my hands as I demonstrate the different bookbinding techniques.

In terms of equipment, the laptop and smartphone were things I already had, of course. I experimented with all kinds of software for connecting smartphone-live-feed to laptop, but in the end the simplest thing was just to get my phone to join the Zoom meeting as an extra participant, and then to highlight that 'box' on the Zoom screen. The ring light is the main new investment. I decided to fork over the extra money ($130) to buy the sixteen inch diameter light, and it's great: very bright, with a dimmer switch, and three hues of light.

I and the participants would all much rather be back in the classroom. There is nothing like face to face interaction, for dealing with problems up close and for the human contact that we all need. But so far, this is working out ok. Every task in the class takes at least 50% longer than in the classroom, but everyone who is part of this online class acknowledges that we are all in the same boat, that this is better than nothing, and that in fact it's working out rather well, considering the state of the world.

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