OK Zoomer

I am a lecturer.

I teach at both diploma and degree levels.

I am alright with saying that out loud in public, simply because that fact is out in the public domain. Anyone who bothers himself to type out my full name in Google will be able to figure it out.

Since the start of the Circuit Breaker period, I’ve been conducting my lectures online. As with many firms and educational institutions nowadays, I’ve been using Zoom.

And I’ve been using it from my Batcave home office.

I can’t say that it is the perfect alternative to classroom instruction. Nothing can ever come close to actually standing in front of a live audience, be it trying to illustrate to them the workings of the Bernoulli Equation or how to properly sketch out the Carrier Psychrometric Chart.

That being said, I have found three tools to be extremely useful in the midst of teaching online.

  1. Blue Snowball Ice Microphone

The Blue Snowball Ice looks nearly comical. A lot of people who have seen it thought that it looks like an ‘oversized lollipop’, or ‘something you use to knock someone on the head with’, and so on.

Yet… it works pretty well for its purpose. You have to get pretty close to the microphone for people to hear you clearly, but it’s sensitive enough for you to not have to always have it right at your mouth at all times.

And in all seriousness, I feel like a real podcaster with this thingamajig.

2. Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Headset

Since the start of the Circuit Breaker period, they’ve been doing double duty as my speakers during my Zoom lectures. While I ask my students to mute their mikes at all times, I allow them to unmute momentarily just before asking me questions.

The Aftershokz Trekz Titanium is a set of bone-conduction earphones. By ‘bone conduction’, I mean ‘it blasts music directly into my skull so that my inner earbones can pick the music up and transmit it to my eardrums.’

I wasn’t even being sarcastic when I said all that.

I normally use these when I’m out running. Their open-ear concept allows me to jive to music while still being alert to things like car horns and bicycle bells.

This headset has been doing an admirable job of letting me listen to my students when they do ask me questions.

3. Microsoft Surface Pro (2017 version)

I bought my Surface Pro in early 2018 when I realized that my 2012-era Lenovo T430s ThinkPad could no longer be relied upon.

It was quite a bit of an investment – the actual Surface Pro + keyboard + Surface Pen + UAG armoured casing + tempered glass screen protector cost me an arm and a leg.

Which is of course a figure of speech. You knew that…. right?

The unexpected Circuit Breaker situation suddenly made my Surface pro an extremely valuable resource in my arsenal. Its magnificent touchscreen and Surface Pen combo are second to none. One common complaint among teachers conducting Zoom lessons is that it’s really difficult to doodle or scribble notes for students to take note of.

With the Surface Pro, it’s a breeze.

That’s me, drawing a reference line on a digital psychrometric chart. That would not be possible without a good touchscreen and digital pen combo – one that the Surface Pro does very well. The simple fact that I can change the colours of the lines that I draw and their thicknesses – that alone helps me to illustrate my drawings very clearly.

I said, I still very much prefer teaching to a live audience in an actual classroom. But to be perfectly honest, it is pretty cool that I’ve been able to pull off all this from the comfort of my home office.

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