Saturday, December 2, 2023

Connecting with students in online classes: It’s all about camera angle

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)

College students, especially recently, are wondering: Will I actually be able to form a connection with my professor if my classes are online?

ODU Online’s assistant vice president for technology, Miguel Ramlatchan, conducted a study to find out.

In a recent article, “Enhancing Instructor Credibility and Immediacy in the Design of Distance Learning Systems and Virtual Classroom Environments,” which appeared in the Journal of Applied Instructional Design, Ramlatchan detailed what he and his co-writer discovered.

The results might surprise you.

“We found that camera angle was most important for the social presence of a class,” he said. “If there’s a really weird camera angle, looking at (the instructor’s) forehead or sinus cavity, it takes away from their credibility or their social presence.”

Ramlatchan and his team examined several aspects of online learning that may play a part in how a student views an instructor’s credibility.

It wasn’t subject matter or the academic program that created a disconnect. The age group of the students, whether or not they were used to online classes, or what type of device they used wasn’t as important, either. It was all about how the camera was placed.

“Eye-level is the best scenario,” said Ramlatchan, noting that good eye contact for a professor in an online lesson can enhance verbal and visual cues, tone and expression. “These are all important to communication in general, but especially instruction.”

Ramlatchan oversees Old Dominion University’s Academic Technology Services department, which supports technology for online learning. This could involve everything from making sure ODU’s online professors have the correct camera equipment to setting up and managing complex streaming events with hundreds of participants.

Sarah Darrow is a content strategist for ODU Distance Leaning.


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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