1) A computer with a webcam HAS to be used for an effective lesson, unless the student is an early beginner. This is because you can not adjust the audio settings for either Zoom or Skype unless you are on a laptop or desktop. Tablets and phones do NOT have the option to change audio settings.
2) Skype sound quality is far superior to Zoom sound quality. Thus, I use Skype for 80% of lessons now. However, Zoom works better if the student has terrible internet quality, probably because it compresses the data more (leading to the worse overall sound).
3) Make sure to have the student adjust their audio settings in both Zoom and Skype! With skype, you just have them turn off the automatic volume adjustment, and with Zoom, they must turn off the automatic volume adjustment, in addition to turning off "suppress background noise (intermittent AND sustained)". Otherwise, you will have the volume cutting in and out constantly. If the student is using a phone/tablet, there is nothing you can do about this, but Skype has FAR less of an issue with this as opposed to Zoom! So if the student must use a phone or tablet, make sure to use Skype!
4) Once I got a couple of weeks' experience with online teaching, I found that many of my lessons ended up being surprisingly effective. However, I found that online lessons amplified good/bad traits in students. For example, the more dedicated/focused students started taking more of their own notes and in some ways may have improved more from the new format. On the other hand, students whom I constantly have to micromanage have really been frustrating to teach, since some degree of independence from the student is necessary for online lessons to work. If their attention span is very low, even a slight amount of latency can make it almost impossible to work with them. Also, communication issues are tremendously amplified. If a student plays while I'm speaking, or continues to play after I try to stop them, I can physically stop them normally. But online, I feel helpless to do anything except repeatedly saying something to grab their attention. It gets very, very tiring.
5) I ended up using a combination of mailed checks/Zelle/Popmoney to receive tuition. I gave students the option of using any of those 3, and it has worked out well.
Now, a question: has anyone experienced students with such bad internet that you had to put them on lesson hiatus? I currently have 3 students with truly terrible internet, and while one of them solved the issue, the other 2 are basically unteachable. It doesn't help that I normally have some degree of communication issues with these 2 students, so their internet connection is just making things 10x worse.Tweet
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