– In early March of 2020, we universally experienced something which was completely foreign to us all.
Almost overnight, we shutdown our society pretty much in all aspects.
And in a part of that shutdown, literally millions offitness studios, and gyms, dance studios, and music conservatories, art classes, had to shut their doors, and in that moment, all of the instructors that taught those classes, the community instructors that taught differentcourses and different classes to our community, they were tasked withreinventing themselves and taking this content, which their community relied on, and converting it into online delivery.
And what a time.
It was chaotic, it wasdepressing, it was concerning.
There was so much going on, but in all of this chaos, all of these instructors dug in and figured out how to maintain some sense of normality, at least they tried to for their students.
Some were more successful than others, but overall, I would say thatthey did a phenomenal job.
Today, on Dotto Tech, I am interviewing a whole bunch of differentcommunity teachers asking them how theymanaged this conversion, and what lessons they've learned in the hope that we can all learn from the different ways that they put together their systems andconverted their own content into online delivery.
So how community teachers reacted to converting to online andthe tips that they can share with us today, on Dotto Tech.
(upbeat music) Steve Dotto here, how theheck ya doin' this fine day? And today on Dotto Tech, asI mentioned in the opening, we are gonna be talking to a variety of different community teachers.
Dance instructors, fitness instructors, music teachers, people whohad to reinvent what they do almost overnight, and deliver the content that they have been trainingtheir entire life to teach in a physical class andlearn how to deliver it in this space, in the online space.
And I think overall, theydid just an amazing job.
And they did so, I think, with a lot of grace and good humor.
They really kind of dug inand embraced the opportunity, embraced it as an opportunityrather than as a task.
I think we would all agree with that.
And they've learned allsorts of really cool ways, because since there was no playbook for them all to follow, they all had to figure outtheir own way of doing things.
And so, in this video today, I interview a whole series of them, and I basically asked themhow they invented themselves and what they've learned from the lessons.
So if you are interested in using online for community instruction, teaching any community sort of classes, today's video is for you, because you're gonna get, first of all, the insight on what it was like for them doing the transformation, but also the tips that they've learned, which you can perhaps gleansome nuggets of knowledge from for your own online instruction.
– It was interesting.
I spent hours, and hours, and hours, sitting at my computer reading as much material as I couldon Zoom and other platforms.
– I hope you were watchinggood videos on YouTube by Steve Dotto about how to use Zoom.
– I love all my Steve Dotto videos.
– We will spend a lotof time in this video talking about what they learned as far as being educators and teachers and dealing with their students, but we are also gonnaspend a considerable time talking about the technologythat they ended up using.
– In the old days we'd do Skype lessons.
And I was very nervousabout the technology, because in those days of doing Skype, it was a little hari-kari as to what the connection would be especially like four or five years ago.
– You live in a small condo, don't you? – I do, I live in an apartment.
– So, how did you setup? So, take me through your setup.
– So, I have a piece offloor, tap floor on the board, no, tap board on the floor, and then I have a tripod setup where I sort of invited my own camera into my Zoom class.
So I have my cell phone that's setup with the tripod andthen I have my computer that I do my music and actually chatting withthe kids during class.
– So you really, you havevery little additional gear.
What are you doing for audio? – Audio is just my AirPods.
– Okay, oh wow, so youreally had to buy nothing.
Well, you had to buy a tripod.
Did you buy some extra lighting? – I bought, I had a tripod already.
I bought a ring light, and I bought a wireless, a wireless remote for my phone so that I could start and stop.
– So your setup now isyou've got this computer here which we're talking to you on now which you use for administration.
So you have all of thekids registered there, you can see them in galleryview all that sort of stuff.
You've got your phone setupclose to you on a tripod, and you're using the camera andthe microphone on the phone, or I guess you're using the mic, but the camera on the phone.
It's a pretty good camera.
It's probably a better camera.
– Yeah, it is.
It's better quality, andthe kids can see me better.
– And you're teaching tap, 'cause you teach other classes.
But I gotta ask ya, doesanybody live beneath you? – I have people that live all around me.
So, when I knew this was gonna happen, I wrote them all a really nice note and I laid out my schedule, actually, like to the hour.
I teach on Tuesdays from five to seven is all tap dancing, andso I apologize in advance, and if anything gets toomuch, send me a text, and we'll figure that out.
And I bought everybody that sort of lives below me, and beside me, I bought them all earplugs and a bottle of wine to sayI'm sorry and thank you.
So, but thankfully they'reall very understanding.
– On one side of my neighbor, my next-door neighbor's an oboe player teacher, on the other side it'sa tap dancer (chuckles).
All of the instructors that I talked to for synchronous lessons, preferred using Zoom by and large.
They had a variety of different setups usually just a basic Zoom setup, sort of what I have right now.
A webcam with a decent microphone.
Although, what we sawfrom Nicol was, I think, a really creative use ofsome existing technology that she had, using her smartphone as a second camera bringing it in as aparticipant in the Zoom call and then having it focusedon a small area on her feet in her particular case.
And for if you're a communityteacher teaching art or some other topic, that's a great option rather than doing screen sharing and having to work outswitching back and forth with cameras from your main feed, but having a second feedusing that smartphone camera which we know is an excellent camera.
So I think that thatwas a very cool option for Nicol to look at.
But by in large, almost all of them, or all of them did preferusing Zoom for synchronous.
But what surprised me is how often they taught asynchronously.
They would use othertools, chat-based tools, to teach asynchronously ratherthan a synchronous class.
– Yeah, so I found asynchronousteaching a lot easier.
So, I filmed exercises that they did and also I found exercises to post.
We were using Marco Polo, which I really liked interms of it being efficient and fast, and I could grade anywhere.
So I could give them feedback.
I really liked that I could also give them either text feedback or video feedback.
So I could, like, there's a little bubble that pops up, but Icould be like, okay, so, – So, what Keri was talkingabout there, Marco Polo, it's actually a messagingapp that you can use on your smartphone that'ssort of like Snapchat, but the conversations last longer.
I think the videos are leftup for a month on Marco Polo, but it's like a text messaging app.
You go back and forth, butyou're recording video clips to have the communicationgo back and forth which I thought was genius.
– So I do a lot of filmyourself, watch yourself, fix it, film yourself again, and then send it to me.
– These kids are recording, then rerecording, and then rerecording, and going oh no, I still can't play thatpart, and rerecording.
There was a lot more attention to detail, because you know what, they had to listen back to themselves and go, oh, Ithought I played that well, but I didn't.
– Well, one fact thatstarted to come clear to me is teaching this way, teachingskills like music or dance, there's not an equivalencyas far as the amount of time that it takes for the teacher, because they aren't ina classroom environment, they have to go over the same content maybe multiple times withmultiple different students.
So time is not equitable.
It takes them longer toconvey the same information to a group of studentsas it would individually.
But overall, there's a balance to that, is the level of instruction, the level of detail in most cases, sounds tome like it was superior.
– The online, it's anothertool in the toolbox.
I don't think it's a compromise.
I think, at first, that's thediscussion that's come up, what I've discussed this withother community music schools is like, some people feel that this should be paying less or something, and it's like, this is been a question.
There's actually more work for us.
– Teacher side.
Because there's way moreprep that has to happen, and et cetera, but the thing is, at the end of the day, because of all that extra, I feel that we'reproviding a better service.
– For the term, and a lot of them said it was great to be able to have that time to take it away withoutthat sense of peer pressure, without that sense of needing to keep up and to watch it as many times as I needed.
So that was really cool to hear.
– Now obviously, there are someserious limitations as well.
There are just some things that we do when we're teaching face-to-face that we can't replicatein the online space.
– The thing they miss from me is I'm also a pianist, so I spend a lot of time accompanying students andplaying with these students.
So I've had to do a lotof work ahead of time to create tracks.
– 'cause my students can't do, you know, I have some kids who can't do a full kick in their room, becausethey're only in their room and they have a desk and a bed and chair, and so, having limited space myself and having to restrict what I do, makes it easier for them, because then I knowwell, if I can't do that then they definitely can't do that.
– Lots of trial and error, because when you're teaching online, not only are you in adifferent environment where you're doing the instruction from, but your students are ina different environment.
Sometimes they're intheir bedroom, as Nicol was just saying there, where she's teaching danceand maybe her students don't have the room to do a whole bunch of the moves that you wouldbe able to in a studio.
But other times, you have family members or parents looking over your shoulder and judging everything youdo every step of the way.
So recognizing the environmentnot just for the instructor but the environment for the students, that was a big learning process that all of our teachers went through.
Now the fitness instructorsand the trainers that I talked to had anentirely different challenge in the early days thandid the dance instructors, and the music teachers, andthe martial arts instructors that I chatted with.
And that was that the fitness classes that were being replaced, they were trying to replacethe social environment and the energy that camefrom being in a room of people working out, because the goals and objectives, of course, of fitness are to have a good hard workout as opposed to develop a skill.
So they faced a wholedifferent series of challenges as they entered the transition.
– The first few days were chaos, because you're not justtrying to figure out well, what do I do with my business? It's like, and how do Ihomeschool my children? And, all of the other factors as well.
– On the Tuesday, Ishutdown all of my classes and told my communitythat was it, we're done.
And then by the Wednesday, I was live streaming.
So I was very lucky.
I have a space here that Itrain PT clients from anyway.
So I setup the webcamon a little mini tripod and popped my laptop on the side, and I had a tiny little Bluetooth speaker that I put underneath the webcam, 'cause I've got the Logitech C920 which is a great webcam.
And I literally ran my classes like that for a few weeks.
– But an interesting fact occurred.
Every single fitnessinstructor who I spoke with said the same thing.
That they had either alreadystarted and dabbled with or were planning to transitionpart of their business to online prior to theoutbreak of Covid-19.
In other words, they recognized that their industry was already moving to online delivery as part, if not all, of the delivery services of the service that they were going to bedelivering to their clientele.
– A year ago, or I thinkin March of last year, I decided that I wanted to try to start a virtual component to my business.
And offer live online classes to people who were stuck at home, like moms with small children, or people who worked from home.
And it didn't really take off, 'cause I couldn't figureout how to find that market.
Well, (chuckles) now thatmarket is everyone in the world.
– The common theme that I heard from every one of the instructors when I talked to them about the future of their online businessis they all were excited about the breaking down of barriers, the local barriers where previously they would only have local students in their dance school, in their music school, in their fitness class, but now they've discovered that they can indeedreach the entire world and they're now starting to come up with different techniquesas far as marketing.
Some of them they'recoming up with themselves, and some of them their community'scoming up with for them.
– While I'm getting my shoes on, they talk to each other about their day and how they've been getting on.
And then at the end of the class, we talk to each other again on Zoom, and then what they all do is they take screenshots and selfies, they're so good at this.
I don't even know whenthey're taking them.
And then they will popthat onto social media and tag their friends, and tag me.
We're a community, we're a family, and they'll just be like, “These classes are amazing, ” and my students havebeen pulling people in to come and join.
– Oh, isn't that great? – So, it's pretty exciting, I think, that you are now, you've been doing this for however long you've been doing it and you've been reaching this community, and they've been loving you, and now you just get to dothat to a wider audience.
Since I've been on group, I'm sorry on group, on Zoom, I've almost doubled my group, and I've added a second class.
– Without doubt, the fitness community has benefited from the fact that fitness instructors can niche down and concentrate on a specific demographic as opposed to concentratingon a specific geography.
That's ended up being a real benefit to the ones that have figured it out.
Now I wanna spend, before we wrap things up, in my conversations Icame across a few gems that don't necessarilyfit everywhere else, one of which was shared by Nicol about the use of Zoom rooms.
– Yeah, the breakout rooms.
I use them often.
I often will break thestudents up into smaller groups and give them either an activity or I'll say, you know, let's go over scene two.
And so in your groups, here's five questions and I want you to discussthose five questions about the scene and thenwe come back together and we discuss.
And so I will float through all the rooms to answer questions or tochat with smaller groups, and then yeah, we bringthem back together.
– Specifically, Nicol wastalking about theater games for her musical theater class, but the fact that the kids can break into small scene groups, work on individual scenes or exercises, theater supports type exercises and then come back to the overall group, I think, is a nice creativeuse of those breakout rooms.
Without fail, everyinstructor who I talked to said the same thing.
They believed that this experience has made them betterinstructors, better teachers.
They all felt they did a good job before, but because of the natureof going into a class and teaching or intoa studio and teaching, they could coast a little bit, they could rely on their experience as opposed to their preparationfor that particular class, 'cause often they're pre-recording things and just the amount ofcontrol that's required to deliver effectivelyinto this environment.
They all felt that they willcome away from this experience as a better instructorthan they were before.
– And so, I am findingat the end of those days, I just, I have a glassof wine and I go to bed, because I'm so tired (laughing).
– My god.
Yeah I'm finding the Zoomfatigue is very, very real.
I am expending a lot more energyjust talking at my computer and also I'm not getting thattwo-way interaction as much.
And so, I'm finding I'mhaving to put on a lot more of a show while I'm teaching.
– I think it's really atough time for everybody, and very unsettling time for everybody.
Kids, teachers, doesn't matter.
And it's been, I think, music has been a nice thing and a great thing for them, because through all of this chaos or not knowing there's beenthis sort of consistent thing that I still have my lessons, I still have my music, I still have my art, and I think that those kindathings are, I don't know, my belief that those sort of things are what keep us going as a species.
– We are, what, 18 minutesor so into this video and this is the result ofabout six and a half hours of interviews with these instructors and with other instructors.
Now, if you'd be sokind in the description we have links to eachone of the instructors who shared with us, thosethat were in the video as well as several others whose comments did not make it into the video, I encourage you to drop by, visit them, take a look at what they have to say, and thank them if you get the opportunity for the effort that they put in.
And I personally wanna thank everybody who contributed so much time to helping me understand a lot better about what the communityteachers have gone through and the different tips and techniques that you've learned in this process.
I recognize how importantthese people have been to the health of ourcommunity as we've moved ahead with keeping a little bit of normal life for students, for kids that are in dance or music, those of us thatrely on exercise in order to have mental as well as physical health, and the fact that they hadto reinvent themselves, learn skills that they never enrolled for.
They didn't, somebodythat teaches clarinet didn't sign up in order to learn how to deliverthe lessons over Zoom.
That wasn't in theprogram when they started, but without fail, it seems to me that they've stepped up to the challenge and they've helped us weather this storm.
So on behalf of me, andI'm sure on behalf of you, a big heartfelt thanks to one and all.
And you can tell them thatin the comments as well.
Let me know if whatyou've learned from this or if there are othersuggestions and ideas that you know about in order to more effectively deliver content and educational content through distance and through videoconferencing tools, et cetera.
Love to see your commentsand I read each and every one even if I don't have time to comment back on every comment that is posted.
Now if you found this video to be useful, a couple of favors to ask.
First and foremost, isplease give us a thumbs up.
That would help tremendouslyin getting the message out about this video, and secondly, if you've not subscribed to this channel, what the heck are you waiting for? Click that subscribe button, ring that notification bell, and I will see you nexttime for more Dotto Tech.
Until then, I'm Steve Dotto.
Have fun stormin' the castle.