How To Go Virtual For Teachers

Despite the loss of the physical classroomse changes, adaptability and technological fluency can help teaching in the era of covid-19 be a rich experience for all. The biggest advantage of moving classes online is physical accessibility. A writer living in Brooklyn can now workshop stories from Lagos or London without thinking twice. This allows the teacher to expand the location and diversity of their students. The unprecedented breadth in opinions and perspectives that remote classes bring can be a wonderful shift for educators. 


What are some strategies to cope with the changes?

A good way for artists, writers, and other freelance educators to expand their base outside of their traditional locale is to identify certain places known for their contribution to their chosen medium and then look for online communities stemming from there. For instance, a jazz musician might look for jazz-music centered community groups in cities known for their jazz, like Paris, New York, New Orleans, etc. Once they find them, they can join their facebook groups, email lists, and group-chats to introduce themselves and offer their services.


After teachers find a broad base of students, one of the biggest challenges is to keep people engaged over the internet. One strategy is to have discussions, critiques, and workshops where the students call on each other (each time a student finishes speaking, they have to call on the next student to speak). Giving people more autonomy and interactivity helps to erase the technological distance. 


Another strategy is to use the breakout feature of some online class services (especially zoom) where students from the main group can be split into smaller groups of three or four to have their own discussions. In these less burdensome video calls it is easier for people to have fluid conversations as they can take turns talking more naturally and remain unmuted the whole time. 


Another general rule of thumb for educators, artistic and otherwise, is to limit the length of time people spend listening to a virtual lecture or participating in a virtual discussion to an hour and fifteen minutes. Beyond this, participants empirically lose focus and tune out. This presents obvious challenges for some cases, especially when people are tied to an academic institution, when class times are slotted for 2-3 hours at a time. One way to get around this is to have students spend a significant portion of that time offline working on individual or group projects, and then to come online for part of that time. 

Time lived in real life around real people is not the same as time spent staring at a screen. Many educators have found their classes to be much more effective when their daily goals and assignments are oriented around real-world goals or concrete learning objectives rather than time limits.


What services might be helpful?

Keep in mind: whenever you plan an ongoing, recurring or one-time event, you should immediately submit it to be featured on our Arts Oasis calendar. 


Zoom offers the opportunity for teachers to hold lessons through video calls. At the start of the pandemic, Zoom quickly aligned itself with companies and universities. The platform offers multiple tools for flexible learning, including Break Out rooms, a Whiteboard, the ability to Record and Transcribe meetings, and so forth. The basic plan offers 40 min meetings for free. 


The main conference platforms during the pandemic have been Skype, Google Meets, and Zoom. Online comparisons point to Zoom as being the best quality service because of its many tools while also having the easiest sharing capacities. Zoom hosts every type of event from lectures to collaborative meetings to viewing parties and more. Also, now that Zoom has announced that they are going to offer end to end encryption for all users (click here for more about that) this video platform is now safe for all types of gatherings. Here are some of the tips and tricks for using Zoom to its fullest capacity. 

  • Decide if you want to set up a Meeting (discussion between the host and audience, free) or a Video Webinar (attendants just listen, paid)

    • Meetings have breakout rooms where participants can talk in smaller groups, large group discussion capacities, a chat, and more for lots of interaction. To set up a meeting, first open and sign into Zoom. Then, click the schedule icon and create your meeting from there. You can then share your meeting with a link. 

    • Webinars have digital hand raising, a Q&A feature, and polling for some but limited interaction. To set up a webinar, you will have to have a paid subscription that includes a max number or participants you can have. sign into Zoom and hit webinars. Then, put in the information prompted. You can then choose if you want attendants to register or not. There are lots of settings for webinars, so find out more about the specifics here.

  • For the best internet, hardwire your connection straight into your wifi connection, or set up a place in your house with the best wifi.

  • Minimize background noise by being in a quiet place and come in 5 minutes before the meeting starts so you can welcome attendants. 

  • You can broaden your reach by using Facebook Live, Facebook Workplace, and YouTube Live to stream your event as it is going on.

  • Use Zoom’s PayPal integration to charge attendants when they register for your webinar.

  • If you want to control who enters the meeting, use a waiting room and don't share your link publicly, unless you want anyone to join the audience. Also, use Set up your own two-factor authentication to use a meeting id and password instead of a link.

  • If it is going to be a public event, make sure you as the host know your controls. You can mute people, disable video, and more. If you don't want others sharing their screen, and to find the rest of the control,  use the host controls at the bottom of your Zoom screen. Then, click the arrow next to Share Screen and then Advanced Sharing Options.  Click here for more on safety.

  • Other good tips: make sure to take control of the meeting early by setting a clear tone and asking other participants to mute when they are not talking. Encourage others to share their video, and do a test before your big meet or event to make sure you are familiar with the controls of Zoom. 

This list is inspired by the Zoom Covid-19 support page, which you can find here. 


Yaymaker is a virtual platform specifically designed for artists hosting virtual events. The platform allows art educators to host their own events and become a member of a larger network of artists sharing resources and strategies about virtual artwork and events. The platform offers a free trial for the first 60 days and artists may subscribe after for $35/month. 


Other online platforms for hosting virtual events include Google Meets, Facebook Live, Youtube Live, Instagram Live, Skype, and so on. After hosting a live event, educators may record their event and publish the event on Youtube, Vimeo, Google Drive, or their own website. Attendees and those who want to watch the event later on may pay for the private link to help further subsidise costs. Educators may also post a separate tutorial series to help market a virtual event: Eventbrite, ZmURL, and Hobnob all work with Zoom to send out personalized invitations. Educators can also host private lessons to work one on one with students. 


How to Receive Payments 

When someone is interested in taking your class, you can give them your PayPal (ex., Venmo (ex. @NallaT) or Cash App (ex. $NallaT) handle for them to send payment to. Once you’ve received the payment, you can keep track of people who have signed up with a list and then send your Zoom or Google Meet link to only people who have signed up AND paid for the class. 


How to Sign Up for Venmo 

  1. Download one of our mobile apps: iOS & Android (Venmo does not have a Windows app)

  2. Open the app

  3. Choose your sign up method and create a secure password between 8 and 32 characters long 

  4. Verify your phone number and email address 

  5. Add and verify your bank account 


How to Sign Up for PayPal

  1. Go to 

  2. Click sign up button in upper right 

  3. Choose personal or business account 

  4. Fill out your information 

  5. Create password 

  6. Link your bank account info 

Here’s a helpful how-to video 


How to Sign Up for Cash App 

  1. Search for Cash App in your device’s App Store

  2. Click the Cash App by Square Inc. app with a green picture with a money symbol. 

  3. If it isn’t downloading, you might not have enough Storage on your phone so you may need to delete other apps you are not using. 

  4. Open the app when it’s done downloading

  5. Enter information 

  6. It will send you confirmation code, enter this code 

  7. Click the circle button in the upper right corner 

  8. This will bring you to the page where you can add a profile picture and your name and your handle which you will give to people to send you money 

  9. Adjust info under the Privacy & Security and Notification tabs to your liking 

  10.  You must give people your handle name with a “$” in front of it always, so they can correctly locate you to send money