Live-Online Class • Technical Side of Things

First, I apologize for sending out two posts right after one another. This is the nuts and bolts side of setting up a Live-Online Class, one where you will be hosting the class, but also include some online extras for the students to watch during the week while they work. If you don’t plan to do this, or could care less about knowing what goes on behind the curtain, feel free to ignore.

Zoom Codes, Zoom Tips, and Zoomzoomzoom…

Guild Evening Meeting: I suggest you let the Guild set up their own Zoom codes for their evening meeting, as they can set up security any way they like, as they know their members if they choose the Waiting Room option. This way, the presenter just has to worry about their presentation. I recommend getting the Zoom codes from your Guild about a week ahead, just to alleviate worry.

Workshop: We bit the bullet and got our own Zoom Pro access this year. I like that I can set up the access codes for this myself. Our workshop schedule went like this:
Class (live): 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Break: 11 -1 p.m.
Class (live): 1-2:30 p.m.

I set up the Zoom to start at 8:30, but then got on early to put on some music and post this sign:

If you don’t know how to do this, I recommend taking the Zoom Training Course, level 2, found on their website.

I used the Advanced Share when I had to share screen (showing them how to get onto the Password Protected section of my website…read on for more details), but mostly, I kept the Zoom Gallery View up and going, except when I shared my iPad as a document camera on the cutting table.

Yes, I wear a headset. When I presented my program the night before, I didn’t use it, but by the end of the evening, my voice was hoarse. (Funny how we think we have to talk louder to reach them All The Way Over There.) One of the tips in the Zoom training I took was to wear a headset. I prefer a lightweight mono-headset, with the ear pad on only one side. I use an adapter to plug it into the side of my laptop in the audio port, as these are the headphones I use when on long calls on my telephone handset.

For some reason, the Apple Earpods don’t work for me. Whenever I use them, people can’t hear me, so it’s old school for me. I do know you can get a Bluetooth headset if you don’t like wires, or one that plugs into your USB port: do your research to find one that works for you.

Setting up the Video Station

Early version of our set-up

I used my cutting table for the place where I recorded my videos. Equipment I would not want to be without:

Daylight Light. It covers the entire area with well-balanced light, and has dimmer settings. It can swing it out over the cutting mat if I need more light in some position. It was a birthday gift and I use it every day.

Just before starting class

Device Holder (Document Camera workaround) Initially we used two smaller tripods and yardsticks stretched across them. Clearly we needed to upgrade. We went with this gooseneck device holder, also called “Lazy Supporter.” It’s made for people to lie in bed and have their video devices held for them, but hey! it worked great for me. One end of the long arm clamped to the side of my table. The flexible arm is really strong, so it stays put when I move it into position. I learned not to bump it, though, as it would jiggle.

Document Camera. I read that some people buy dedicated document cameras, but since I have a smart phone, why not use this? This holder, made for an iPad, was a little tricky to use on the smaller iPhone, but no worries. I just slid it out of the bracket a little more. I turned the iPhone sideways (landscape) to do my videos. When I hooked up the iPad sideways (landscape) to do an Advanced Screen Share on Zoom…no go. Apparently the software is not yet available to do that, so I just lifted the device up higher and kept it in Portrait mode.

(I just read over this, and boy, what a lot of jargon. Basically I’m writing this post for someone who wants to try this, and maybe for my own reference in the future. Again, if you aren’t interested, just slide on by.)

Recording a Video and Putting it Up on YouTube

I researched what else I should make available for my class and short, technique videos were mentioned over and over. TECHNIQUE VIDEOS?? I think this was the scariest part of getting ready. I have some friends in the movie business and I knew about storyboards and editing and splicing and I didn’t want to do any of that.

made with Affinity Designer software

What I did have going for me was having taught this class multiple times. I knew what technique students wanted me to demo over and over. I knew where the tricky spots were. And I knew how to teach adults, given that I taught ten years at a community college. I have new classes coming up, and I will apply those same criteria to any new class: What will be the hard part? What is tricky? What might make the difference between a successful quilt construction experience and a total fail?

I made double my samples to work with in the videos as I had decided to do it all in one take. I recorded my demo twice, then picked the better one. On one of the four videos I made for this class, I don’t know what I did, but the video disappeared from off the phone (I was trying to edit it). So I re-did that video, but with already trimmed up samples. I hope they were sympathetic. Important: At the beginning, introduce what segment it is and what project it is (ask me how I know this).

Upload videos to YouTube and set them to Unlisted. You can set them to Private, but then you are about the only one to see them. You can research to find out the difference, if you are curious.

Setting up a Password Protected Section in WordPress

I use WordPress as my blogging platform, and they have a nifty feature: I can password-protect a Post or a Page. I opted for Page so a publication notice wouldn’t go out to my readers.

When properly set up, if an outsider wanders into the Secret Space, they will see this page. Unless they know the password, they can go no further, ensuring that your content for your class will remain protected and only your students can see it.

part of their password-protected webpage

I’m leaving this Page available to my class for a week. At the end of the week, we’ll have a follow-up session to show off quilts, talk about our experiences. After that, I will change the password, set the YouTube videos back to Private, cleaning up after myself.

I’d explored the idea of using a commercial site to upload my content for the class. There is a monthly fee, if done properly, and since I was still in exploration mode, I went this direction. Having a commercial site would be helpful if you weren’t doing a Live-Online class, but instead one where the videos existed without a teacher needing to appear.

And if you are a blogger with WordPress above the free version, you probably already know how helpful the “Happiness Engineers” are in the online chat. They’ve saved me, more than once.

Writing a Pattern

I use the Affinity Suite to write my patterns. I purchased them outright; there are no subscription fees (as in the Adobe products). I began writing patterns using a basic word processing program, but always drooled after those patterns that had nifty illustrations and pages that looked WOW. I’m not a graphic artist, but as a quilter, I do know what I want out of a pattern, and I want it easy to read and easy to find. I’m quite happy with these three pieces of software:

Affinity Photo — does what it indicates…it works with images, mostly photos.

Affinity Designer–you can make illustrations with this, moving around shapes, adding text, and about a billion other things. I barely scratch the surface with this, but I can make a decent patchwork illustration.

Affinity Publisher–It sets up a document where you can load in your text, your illustrations. I can also set up a Master Page where everything I place on there will be distributed throughout the pattern (helpful for page numbers, identifying logos, etc.).

Okay, That’s It!

I’m tired, you’re tired, so let’s stop here. I’ve tried to be specific in what I’ve used, and how I did things. If you found this helpful, pay it forward and help someone else Get the Hang of Things.

Overall, I think I may really come to love teaching this way, so I’m kind of glad the Covid-19 Pandemic forced me to learn how to do this. It’s a hybrid, for sure, but there are many positives I can see to this way of conducting a workshop. I may make comments going forward, changing how I do things, but for now, this is a record of what I’ve discovered and how I proceeded.

Happy Teaching!