Zooming With A Virtual Classroom Background

Picture stylized with Prisma photo app. 
A few days ago I posted a picture of my classroom on Twitter and suggested teachers take pictures of their own classrooms to use as a virtual background on Zoom. That tweet has turned out to be very popular, so here is a little more info.

To add a virtual background on Zoom you will need to go into your settings in the zoom app. I find it easiest to do this if I launch a meeting and click the arrow next to the camera icon. One of the options is to add a virtual background. It remembers the backgrounds you add and you can have more than one. There are much more specific directions from Zoom here.

Note that the full image, and what shows up on Zoom are slightly different. Zoom trims all the edges.

The Gear:
Virtual backgrounds work much better if you have a green screen. I happened to have one already and I was glad I had thought to bring it home from my classroom. I have this one. (Affiliate link) It works great. Right now I'm using some big binder clips to hang it from the shelves behind my desk. I think I'm going to mount some hooks to make it easier to put up and take down.
Jen in zoom, with her virtual background and good lighting.

The other thing that helps to have for video calls is a headset with a boom mic. The set I had was six years old and not super comfortable, so I borrowed my son's gaming headset and then bought my own. It's out of stock now, but I'm hearing really good things about this one from Logitech.

My last suggestions is about lighting. There are very fancy ring lights you can buy if you need to look really good for the television audience at home, but to just get not-so-scary-looking I suggest this simple inexpensive USB light. (Also affiliate link) It plugs right into my laptop and puts just enough light on my face to cut the pallor of this new indoor lifestyle.

There is lots more to know about holding virtual office hours, teaching online, and supporting our students are we all move through this historical moment together. I'll do my best to take some time each week to share what I'm figuring out works for me. Pay it forward and share what's working for you.

PS If you use my affiliate links I get a very tiny bit of the revenue from your purchase. So, thanks.



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