I love doing virtual visits with students, and I am fortunate to have been able to connect with classes all across the country thanks to the wonders of technology. (Fun fact: I offer free 20-minute Q&A sessions to any educator using my book(s) with their students!) Of course, technology often has hiccups. Here are the Nine Tips for a Successful Virtual Visit I send to educators before each virtual call. Please feel free to use, share and adapt these to your needs, so long as you credit me. Here's to joyous, hiccup-free communication!
NINE TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL VIRTUAL VISIT
1) Set up the laptop (or other electronic device you're chatting with) before the presentation, and make sure that the camera shows me as many of your students as possible. Often, the camera sees children farther away better than children right up close.
2) If you are moving the laptop between classrooms for multiple presentations, please hang up between classrooms, rather than keeping me online as you move from class to class. Having a distinct call for each class helps the visit to start off in a calm, controlled manner--- and allows me a sip of water between presentations!
3) Make sure that the device you are using to call is stationary throughout the presentation. Do not hold it, as shifting the position of the device can sometimes contribute to spotty reception and cause visual and auditory disruption.
4) Test our connection before the visit by sending a typed message confirming that we are connected through the program we will be using to chat. This will help ensure that you are able to send or receive calls to/from me.
5) Make sure that audio and video both work on your device prior to the call. The less time we spend troubleshooting during the scheduled visit time, the better!
6) Clearly define who will call who before the visit.
7) Designate an adult in the room to call on students who are raising their hands-- I may not be able to see everyone, or see everyone clearly enough to identify them. (I will ask for questions and make pauses at various points during the presentation-- students don't need to hold questions in until the end! It is completely fine with me for students to raise their hands as I speak, and if I see hands going up I will pause as soon as it makes sense to do so.)
8) When a student asks a question, be prepared to have the adult who called on them repeat the question in a loud, clear voice so that I can hear it. Often, device microphones don't pick up the quiet voices of children.
9) If possible, let me know ahead of time if your students will have read my book or not. It changes how I present things a little bit, so the information is helpful.