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Video and audio are the glue that hold the VLT experience together. The cameras you decide to use and where you display incoming and outgoing camera feeds can have a fundamental impact on the VLT experience for participants.
Each VLT room contains 4 high definition pan/tilt cameras, whole room microphone coverage as well as a number of other audio options such as lapel microphones, Blu-Ray audio etc. Make use of VLT training and drop-in sessions to test out and refine cameras and positioning for your room setups.
To make best use of cameras you need to decide on a table/seating style that fits in with classroom activities and teaching approaches. You will almost always need a whole class 'room camera' in each location that is zoomed in on all participants. In many instances this is enough to run a class, particularly when projected on to the larger side wall displays. Try to arrange students so that they face the camera you've chosen as the 'room camera' and use adjacent displays to project incoming camera feeds from other locations. This establishes eyelines across locations and helps to create and maintain engagement.
You may want to use a second camera as a presenter camera. This can be focused on a specific area (the lectern for example), or you might even pan the camera around the room as needed. This is useful when you only have a teacher in one of the linked rooms, for student presentations or for more lecture style classes.
A 'self view' can be useful if you have the space and can always be tiled into one of the other displays if needed. Use this to monitor what other locations are seeing - to give you a quick idea of whether everyone is in shot or not. Some teachers enjoy moving whilst they talk and wondering out of shot can be issue.
During class, try to get in to the habit of talking to the camera as opposed to the more natural tendency to talk to the audience that appears on the display. Unfortunately the screen may be some distance from the camera, so talking to remote participants on a display may well give them the impression that you're talking to someone else entirely. Worse still, they can feel ignored and this can have a negative impact on student engagement.
You don't need to use every camera in the room and having two running is usually more than enough to run most classes.
Be aware that the whole room is miked up and 'live' from the moment you establish a VLT connection. Room audio is extremely sensitive and will pick up the quietest whisper in a silent room. Make students aware of this during your first class.
Ambient noise (paper shuffling, jewellery rattling etc) can be a problem as this is amplified and sent out to remote participants. This can be a particular problem if you're trying to talk or deliver content. Turning down your room audio momentarily can help with this issue.
You don't necessarily need to be connected to remote locations for every minute of classes so muting the conference audio has been made a simple button click on the control panel. Muting rooms and hiding camera feeds can be a useful teaching device where you want to create a competitive atmosphere and works well for developing debates, roleplays etc.
As well as room audio, you can select the audio from any input source (computers, Blu-Ray player etc) with a couple of taps of the control panel.
See the Technical Guide for more information on setting up and using VLT cameras and audio.
Page authorised by Director National Centre for Teaching and Learning
Last updated on Tuesday 16 August 2016