November 26, 2021
Creating a "Cameras On" Virtual Classroom Environment
By: Sharon Muza, BS, CD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE | 0 Comments
After approximately 20 months of facilitating virtual perinatal classes, I am here to say that nothing discourages me more than class members keeping their cameras off. I decided early on, when my classes were first moving to a virtual platform, that I was going to make my virtual classes so engaging and participatory that families could not help but turn their cameras on to be present and active with me and the other participants. And it worked!
I recognize that there are factors that influence whether a person/family can or wants to turn their camera on, including safety and privacy concerns, internet bandwidth, device capabilities, equity, inclusivity and access. Showing grace and respect for individual situations is key first and foremost.
Here are five tips for encouraging families to have cameras on during your perinatal classes
1. Set up the “camera on” philosophy from the beginning
Provide information on your website, in your registration information and your welcome letters that “cameras on” is the norm that helps build a community and allows for maximum learning and participation. When families know what to expect, they can be prepared to meet that expectation.
2. Keep your camera on at all times
Model the behavior that you want to see. Be there with your camera on from the very beginning, not just when the official class time starts. Greet people by name as they “arrive” and let them know you are glad they are there. Do this for all the families, regardless of their camera status.
3. Choose your activities carefully
There are many great learning opportunities that encourage a “cameras on” level of participation. Consider starting class with a “show and tell” suitable to the topics at hand. Consider the following: bring something you will want to use for comfort or coping during labor, share the first baby item you procured when you found out you were pregnant, hold up your favorite resource for this pregnancy. Even if families have chosen to be off camera, they often turn on their cameras when it is their time to share.
4. Coach and correct
When teaching and talking about effective labor positions and techniques, let families know that if they are open to practicing with their cameras on, you are able to offer suggestions and guidance to help them get the most out of what they are learning. Verbally guiding support people to adjust their hands for the best double hip squeeze, or helping pregnant people lunge in a more comfortable position is possible when you can see what they are doing.
5. Break out rooms build community
If your virtual teaching platform and organization permit break out rooms, provide lots of opportunities for class families to connect and work in small groups in a “break out room.” Often, once ensconced in a break out room, families will turn on their cameras to connect with a subset of the entire class as they work on an activity or participate in a small group discussion.
Childbirth classes are not only a place to learn and prepare for the end of pregnancy, labor, birth and the fourth trimester, but an opportunity to connect with other people having the same experience. Even if virtual learning is taking place, due to the COVID-19 situation, or other reasons, an engaged and active group of learners leaning in to both learning and the camera makes for a positive and productive experience. What do you do during your virtual classes that encourage a “cameras on” philosophy?
TagsChildbirth education Sharon Muza COVID-19 Virtual Childbirth Classes