Electronic Devices for Online Learning

To successfully take an online class or workshop a student must have one electronic device, and often two. You need a desktop or laptop computer, or possibly a tablet, with a screen large enough for you to see the instructor and anything she or he is demonstrating. It is best if it has a camera and microphone so the instructor can see and hear you, but they are not absolutely essential.

To fully reap the benefits of a class the instructor should be able to see your work also. For some classes, such as needle lace, it is fine for you to hold your work up to the main camera. For others, such as beginning bobbin lace, it is essential that you have a second electronic device suspended over your work quite closely. Each class description states whether a second device is Required, Recommended, or Not Necessary.

There are three typical things to use for the second device – a smart phone with a camera, a webcam or a document reader. All will work, but in our experience the phone’s camera will usually be the best, and many people already have them. There are many ways to suspend the camera over your work. There are flexible armatures with a clamp to hold the phone/camera. You can attach it to a flexible lamp with rubber bands or string. You can stack some books next to your pillow/work and insert the phone under the top few books. If the phone isn’t centered well enough with the books, try two stacks of books with two dowels or a yardstick laid across them, then attach the phone/camera to the dowels or yardstick.

Any of these second devices can be plugged into a USB slot on your computer. If you do that, you will sign into the Zoom meeting with one window and you will switch between your main camera and the second camera during class. Usually there is a symbol next to the Stop Video icon on the bottom of your Zoom window that leads you to a menu where you can Select a Camera. Alternatively, if you are using a phone, you can choose not to plug it into your computer. Simply click on the link for the meeting on the phone and you will sign in with a second window. After that you don’t have to worry about switching your cameras. The instructor and moderator can choose to look at your second camera whenever they need to.

If all of this information sounds complicated, never fear. As long as you have the equipment, we will help you set it up. The Lace Museum will schedule many sessions for students to practice their setups before classes begin. So, you can try the setup ahead of time by yourself, then join a museum practice session to test everything and refine it.