In this article, I would like to look at Zoom and how to use Zoom Video Conferencing to teach your dance classes.
I teach various dance forms, and some classes are easier to teach than others. I find that ballet works best, followed by contemporary dance. Hip hop is difficult because of the speed, and stretch and strengthen classes work really well because you don’t need to move too much.
As dance teachers, we are living in weird and unprecedented times. If you, as a dance teacher, have like most of the world been in quarantine, then you have by now no doubt experimented with teaching your pupils online in an attempt to keep them dancing and moving forward while they are not allowed in a studio environment.
So while the virus is spreading across the world, we have to completely reinvent how we deliver our classes.
I have been doing online teaching with varying degrees of success on Zoom and although it is not ideal, it is definitely better than nothing.
So now as we as dance teachers are trying to embrace the new normal which is virtual teaching for most of us, let’s look at how to use Zoom Video Conferencing as a tool to deliver our online classes. As far as I can gather from various teachers groups that I belong to, Zoom seems to be the most popular choice for dance teachers, and not surprisingly as it is easy to use for both the teachers and the pupils.
So even for those of us who don’t have any talents when it comes to the technological, here is a breakdown of how you can be successful using Zoom Video Conferencing as a tool to teach your dancing classes.
How To Use Zoom Video Conferencing App
Let’s Get Started
First of all you need to download the app. I use Zoom on my IPad, but I think a laptop would be even better as the screen is bigger. As long as the device that you choose has a built-in camera and microphone. Go to zoom.us to join up. Write down your user name and password, so you don’t forget it.
You can use the app for free, but I found the free version a bit cumbersome as you can only do 40 minutes at a time. I opted to do the monthly $14.99 which enables me to run classes of unlimited length. There is a limit of 100 pupils in the class at the same time, but my classes are mostly small so this isn’t an issue.
This works well for me as I have a code and password for each day. I stay logged in and the children get put in a waiting room as they arrive until I let them in at the time that their class starts. This eliminates the need to log in with a new password for each class, and you can let your classes run as long as you like.
Once you have your Zoom account sorted you will see options when you open the app:
- New Meeting
- Share Screen
You can use the Zoom App or work through the website at zoom.us to set up and hold your classes. I find using the app far easier.
I started off by scheduling my classes and then sending out the invite links to all my students. The system pretty much takes you through how to schedule your classes.
Once your classes are scheduled, you simply go to meetings on the sidebar of your Zoom App and you can simply press start to start the class from the choice on your list.
I strongly advise you to make use of the password and maybe have a different one for each day to make your classes that much more secure. You can always schedule a new class if you feel you need to with a new password if you feel unwanted people are getting access to your classes.
Also, make sure you enable your waiting room. In this way your pupils have to wait there until you let them into the class, otherwise, you will have lots of interruptions during your classes. Once you are ready for the next class you simply click on participants and admit them all.
The Zoom Video Conferencing App also gives you the opportunity to pre-record your classes if you need to. I haven’t used this option yet, as I prefer to chat with my students face to face. If you click on the three dots you can choose where you want to save your meeting for later use.
If you want to record your meeting you would need to click new meeting and then it will start recording you. Make sure that your audio and video are both turned on by clicking on the icons at the bottom left of the Zoom Video Conferencing App screen.
Once you are happy that your lighting, background, and audio all seem to be working properly click the record button and choose where you would like to save it on your device or on the cloud.
You will have some cloud storage included with your Zoom account, but this gets used up quickly so it is not always ideal.
While you are recording you can hit the pause button so that you can stop gather yourself or find new music and then hit resume to continue where you left off.
The entire video will begin to save once you have ended the meeting by pushing the ‘end’ button.
Did you know that there is a setting in the preferences > video which can touch up the appearance of your face and make you look better, softer, and slightly retouched? This is great for those of us who are self-conscious about getting in front of that camera to record.
Down under settings, there are a few other things you can do besides touch up your appearance to improve your overall experience with Zoom.
You can mute participants in the call by selecting ‘manage participants’ from the bottom of the screen. This allows you to mute and unmute and turn the video on or off for any given participant.
You can also achieve this by hovering over their video screen and selecting those options from the blue menu at the top right of your screen. This especially helps if you have a big class of younger children. Sometimes all the background noises in their houses or them all trying to talk to you at once can be overwhelming, so in this case, it is best to mute them or ask them to mute themselves.
By clicking on the grid icon, you can change the way that you view your class. You could choose to make your screen big and your participants smaller or make everyone smaller to fit on your screen.
On my Ipad, I can fit eight at a time onto my screen view. If I have eight in a class I simply toggle until I am gone and then all my students show on the screen without me having to scroll from page to page. I tell them to let me know if they can’t see me, as I won’t be able to check my screen to see if I can still be viewed while demonstrating.
If I have a private lesson, I simply make myself smaller and my student big so I can see her better.
You need to make sure that you step well away from the screen so that your pupils can see your entire body when you are demonstrating so you need to set up your screen before class to allow for this. It thus helps to have a room that is quite long to teach in, as the further you go away from the screen, the more you can move around and stay in the screenshot.
I haven’t used the screen sharing either yet, but you may find it useful if you want to show a video to your pupils.
During the meeting, click the green ‘share screen’ button. You will be given a selection of screens to choose from. If you have a video with sound you will need to click on ‘share computer sound’ so that the sound for the video plays through as well as the video.
The main downside that I find when I teach on Zoom is the delay. If I play my music, my students always only hear it about two seconds later so they always look like they are dancing out of time with the music, and sometimes you have eight bodies all dancing at different times, so it can be difficult to watch.
All the best with your online dance classes teachers. We are all in this together, and who knows it could be a new way of attracting students to your studio for the future that stay in remote places and can’t get to a class. The possibilities of technology are endless.