Some tips for online teaching setups

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Gerardo
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Some tips for online teaching setups

Post by Gerardo »

The origami workshops through platforms such as Zoom became a very popular and necessary practice to keep the origami community active and united during the pandemic. Due to that, in recent months I have been improving my setup so to facilitate the online teaching process.

I share below some notes and photos that explain every detail of my setup and how each one has been useful to me. It can be very valuable information for people interested in the virtual development of workshops and origami group meetings through Zoom, Google Meet, Jitsi, etc. By the way, there are a lot more useful tips in...

The Zoomigami Guide by Ilan Garibi: https://cfcorigami.com/resources/zoomigami-guide

Teaching Origami Using Video Meeting Systems by LondonOrigami: https://mcusercontent.com/1b8c5614f751f ... g_v1.4.pdf

This is my setup:

Image
  1. By using a desk lamp as an arm for the webcam I’m able to move it closer or farther from the paper. I don’t use it as a light source when teaching origami.
  2. I attached a laser pointer to the webcam, by using duct tape, to pinpoint the center of the webcam’s frame. That way I can keep my paper in the center of the frame as I fold. I use a shirt button and wire to keep the laser pointer turned on for as long as I want.
  3. A smartphone has a better camera than most webcams, but since I don’t own one I purchased the Yohoolyo 1080P webcam (good image plus autofocus). I made a pocket to attach the webcam to the desk lamp by using a piece of carton board and duct tape.
  4. Since the desk has a leather top and I can’t properly fold on it, I place a Formica board on top. By placing the webcam correctly, the board’s edges also gives me an indication that helps me place the sheet straight within the frame.
  5. The small headset allows me to place the microphone closer to my mouth, offering a clearer sound.
    The ring light levels the lighting on my face and the paper. I set it that high, so it doesn’t reflect on my glasses.
  6. A second screen allows me to see other things while I keep the video call on the laptop’s, for example, diagrams or OBS Studio. That way I can see people's reactions on the laptop's screen, through gallery-view, and be receptive to them as I teach each step.
  7. OBS Studio allows me to adjust the settings of my webcam, such as exposure, brightness, and contrast, among others, and also allows me to add the laptop’s webcam (picture-in-picture).
  8. A cardboard box lifts the laptop and its webcam to a more natural angle, just a tad higher than my face.
  9. I receive sunlight from one side of the room which I diffuse by using a window shade. This light generates shadows and highlights on the paper, making the creases and folds easier to see. I place the laptop next to the window, so people can see me better instead of placing it on the other side of the desk and far from the window.
Image


If you are interested in buying a webcam to point to the desk and teach origami, (1) look for one with manual or automatic focus, avoid fixed focus, and (2) make sure it does NOT produce a "fisheye" image. I mean those that make straight edges (like the corners between walls) curvilinear. Have you seen that visual effect? Several webcams produce this type of image, including those that say "wide angle." This kind of webcams also make the edges of the paper curved, which makes the origami learning process very difficult.

I recommend the following which are MUCH cheaper than document cameras.

Loetad 1080p webcam (zero fisheye image and manual focus): https://www.loetad.net/product/webcam-w ... -reduction

Yohoolyo 1080p webcam (very little fisheye image and autofocus): https://www.yohoolyo.net/product/webcam ... eting.html

If you have an Android phone and want to use it as a computer webcam, but DO NOT know how, I recommend the Droidcam app: https://www.dev47apps.com/


OK, that's it. Hopefully what I have learned from so much trial and error will help you.
Last edited by Gerardo on April 12th, 2021, 8:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Baltorigamist
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Re: Some tips for online teaching setups

Post by Baltorigamist »

This is really insightful! I might have to invest in some of these for the future if I ever decide to make tutorials.
Could you elaborate on how you use the laser pointer with the wire and button?
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Gerardo
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Re: Some tips for online teaching setups

Post by Gerardo »

Thanks Balto :). And have you ever thought about teaching online, for example at one of the Origami-dan's, the Discord server, VC parties?

About your question, often when people like me teach through a videoconferencing app, we tend to look more at the paper than at the computer screen. Because of that, it often happens that we move the paper as we fold and out of the center of the webcam's frame. In that case, the participants aren't able to see the whole paper. The red laser point is actually an indication for me as a teacher, that helps me identify the center of the frame, so I don't accidentally move the paper away from it as I fold and teach :idea:.

I added the shirt-button, using wire, because the laser pointer is only activated while its button is pressed. If there's no pressure, then it stops emitting the red light. Since it would be absurd to keep a finger against the button during the whole workshop, the shirt-button and wire substitutes my finger in said task ;).

Unfortunately, I've forgotten to turn it off in a couple of occasions and I end up draining the batteries :(. I have to think on a solution.
Baltorigamist
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Re: Some tips for online teaching setups

Post by Baltorigamist »

I've thought about it, yes, but as of right now I don't have the equipment or space to set up a teaching area.

And would it be easier to simply tape the laser pointer's button in place?
(I was asking about how it's put together, by the way--not about the purpose. Maybe I should have been more clear, but I'd guess you just wrap the wire around the button to keep the laser pointer on?
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Re: Some tips for online teaching setups

Post by Gerardo »

Hahaha... communication error :P. It happens ;).

Anyway, here's a close-up of the laser pointer.

Image

In my experience, just tape–even if it's duct tape–can't exert enough pressure to keep the button pressed. So I circled the laser pointer with the wire and made a knot through the holes of the shirt-button. When I push the -shirt-button to the right it presses the button and when I push it again to the left, it stops pressing it.

Hope that makes it clear :).
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