Professor Ted Stephenson of George Brown College wanted to create a virtual learning environment that both himself and his students could benefit from. He envisaged a class that fused elements of a TV show and a Podcast; creating highly engaging and interactive content that would ensure his classroom was never dull. Exactly 1 year since becoming a Singular for Good member, we caught up with Ted to see how this vision had transpired.
“The Professor Ted experience”, as Ted calls his virtual classroom, is designed so neither himself nor his students suffer “zoom doom and gloom”. By utilizing Singular overlays in combination with other technology, the virtual experience showcases multi-camera videography, green screen backgrounds and real-time graphics. With the main objective of Ted’s vision being to bring excitement and engagement to online learning, his “PodClass”, as he also calls it, contains an array of flourishes in order to keep both himself and his students occupied.
A “waiting room” is shown at the beginning of the class, using intelligent overlays to give students the feel of waiting for a show to begin. His personal favorite for the waiting room screen is the lake in his own backyard - showing the ducks and rabbits that many of his students turn up early to class for. Ted has even addressed the natural reluctance for some to turn on their cameras. He intuitively uses overlays to create personal profiles for those that do not wish to be seen. Ted’s pioneering approach to virtual learning has received a lot of positive feedback from students and colleagues. This comment being one of many: “This is definitely more engaging and fun than the current online lectures. I will soon be starting my last semester (after 4 full semesters of online learning), and this would have been nice to have!”.
Professor Ted’s dream of transforming the virtual classroom was actualized, despite not being from a professional graphics background. Because of this, we were interested to hear some of his key takeaways from the process. Ted’s response was that the impact was immediate - the look and feel of a tv show that he was after was instantly accessible, which completely transformed his class to give it a more professional look from the outset. Moreover, the beauty of his project is how it can always be new and exciting. Ted is able to refresh his overlays as often as he likes, and believes the sky’s the limit for anyone wishing to liven their content with intelligent overlays. He looks forward to evolving the “Professor Ted experience” in the months and years to come.