1. Learn by doing
Zoom, Teams, Meet… do the words alone make you nervous? You’re certainly not the only one. Ask your colleagues for help and use the many tutorialsavailableonline. You learn by doing and discover all the possibilities along the way, so get going!
2. Why offer lessons online?
Before you come right out and say ‘online only’, it’s a good idea to consider what you want your online lessons to achieve. Why do people join a dance school? Online lessons can be a valuable extraduring this lockdown, but be sure to think about the connection with your participants until the coronavirus crisis is over.
3. Watch live or later
Live online lessons with a fixed group get a bigger response than pre-recorded films to watch later. After all, dancing is a social event. You motivate each other.
4.Ration your energy
Working in front of a computer screen demands a huge amount of energy from teachers and participants.
That is why you should:
- Limit the duration of your lesson.
- Integrate pre-recorded films into your lesson. Doing that will give you a chance to get your breath back.
- Give your participants sufficient opportunities to practice on their own.
- Alternate between new and familiar material.
5. Explore the possibilities of the medium
Online teaching has its limits, but it also offers new possibilities.
- Breakout rooms for individual feedback
- Dance movie nights or a look back at iconic dance films
- Quizzes and polls
- A Spotify playlist that participants can use to practice at home
- Recordings of your session or instruction videos to watch later and get some extra practice
6. A stable internet connection is crucial
Your online activity depends on the stability of your internet connection. So use a plugged-in network cable if you can. Or make surethat not too many people are using the same WiFi network at once. Put your smartphone, tablets and other computers in flight mode while you are working.
Give your participants the same advice, but be aware that this isn’t possible in all households.
7. Make clear arrangements with your participants
Online lessons are feasible for people of all ages, but adjust your explanations to suit your target group.
Consider arrangements about
- The mute button
- Camera on
- Showing your name clearly
- Using gestures: thumbs up
- Using the chat function
- Image settings (gallery view, speaker view, mirror image)
- Enough light in the room
- Safety for the dancers, for example the floor
(read more after the quotation)
Danspunt’s third-party and accident insurance also covers your online lessons.
8. Don’t try to keep time
Sound and images are not always synchronous in online environments. Left and right aren’t always the same for everyone behind a screen either.
- Don’t focus your lesson to much on dancing in unison, synchronicity and rhythm.
- Ensure the teachers and participants have a stable internet connection (tip 6).
- Experiment with mirror images (in Zoom: “mirror my video”).
- Teach in pairs: front view and back view.
- Use a rooms with mirrors and put the camera where the dancers would normally be.
- Socks in two different colours may solve the problem of right and left.
- Sound and images are synchronised better in pre-recorded films. So if rhythm is important, the teacher can share these films and watch them with the class.
9. Which sounds do you want to amplify?
A laptop has one microphone and is usually set up for ‘ordinary’ meetings. If you are standing a long way from your computer or have your back to the microphone, you might not be audible. Do you want ambient sound, and if so have you selected this option? What about music?
A few strategies:
- Share sound directly using the computer (on Zoom: share sound) or use a separate device.
- Do you move around a lot? A headset with a microphone can work wonders.
- Connect the computer, music and headset to a mixing desk.
- Put an external microphone on a stand and move it around with you.
- Use a speaker in the room in combination with a microphone.
(read more after the quotation)
If your dance organisation pays an annual contribution for Unisono (SABAM) for your dance lessons in a room, that contribution also covers your online lessons.
10. Get to know your application
Most organisations work with Zoom. Other applications are Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or Jitsi.
The free applications Google Meet and Jitsi might be enough for you, but paid versions of Zoom or Teams clearly offer more possibilities.
If you use Facebook Live or Instagram, you are likely to run into copyright problems with music. Your films will be blocked and you risk your account being blocked as well.
Do you want to learn more about online applications? YouTube tutorials explaining the possibilities are your best friend!
This article is based on the online Hoe dan(s) sessions #01 and #02 about how to organise online dance lessons. With many thanks to Aike Raes, Anja Debruyn (Crazy Legs) and all the participants for their input. Editor: Elodie Kona.