Tech Tips for Teaching and Training in a Hybrid Environment

Some tips for when you can't be there to provide over-the-shoulder help.

I’ve worked at three different institutions over the pandemic, each with its own approach to working in person or online. There have certainly been some awkward moments adopting so many new technologies over such a short period. The worst experience was trying to go “back to normal” in an open office area with cramped cubicles where five different people in five different Zoom meetings were talking over each other. While this article cannot solve weird policy decisions, its goal is to introduce more advanced uses of the technologies available to us for teaching and training in hybrid library environments.

A perceived drawback of teaching online is not being able to look over someone’s shoulder and physically show them what to do on a computer. In actuality, there are many ways to do this digitally that can make teaching and training in a digital environment just as effective as in-person interactions.

Using remote control

In Zoom, Teams, or Skype, you can take control of someone’s screen to move the mouse on their computer and click on things. This can be very useful for people who do not understand the terminology used to describe what to do or who have a difficult time following along.

Doing this is simple. At the top of the Zoom window, click on the View Options button, and you will find the Request Remote Control option:

A screenshot showing where to find the Request Remote Control option in Zoom
Look for the “Request Remote Control” option at the top of the Zoom window

Teaching through video recordings

Along with screen sharing sessions, I have found it useful to record short videos on specific topics for instructional purposes. Many webinars are an hour long or more. While a deep dive and time for discussion on a topic are useful, not everyone has the time to watch that much content. If it is instructional, a shorter clip is easier to return to. I found short videos effective not just for young people familiar with TikTok and Instagram Reels, but also for older employees looking to review materials in their own time and as often as they feel necessary.

If you work in a large university or corporation, they may have user experience, multimedia, marketing, or instructional design departments to help you. If you do not have these resources available, you can also just record Teams or Zoom sessions and post them on a webpage.

The button to record a Zoom meeting is in the banner on the bottom of the app. In a Teams meeting, it can be found in the top header by clicking on the three dots and then “Record and transcribe”:

A screenshot of where to find the "Record and transcribe" option in Zoom under the "More" menu
Look for “Record and transcribe” under the “More” menu in Zoom to record a meeting

Once you have made a recording in Zoom, either go to C:\Users\[Username]\Documents\Zoom or log into your Zoom account in a browser and look for the recordings there.

To download a video you recorded in Teams, go to the Files tab of a meeting or Teams chat and grab it from there:

A screenshot showing where to find the Download button in Microsoft Teams under the "File" menu
Look for the “Download” option under Files in Microsoft Teams

🌟 Get the most out of the software you already have:

Curating recordings

If you want to go the recordings route, you will need a place to upload them, so students and trainees can view them. To host the video recordings, an intranet or learning management system is likely the most appropriate place. You will hopefully have coworkers who are responsible for running these platforms and have the time to help you. If not, you can try your hand at creating or editing a Microsoft SharePoint page. The main benefit to using SharePoint is that it should be freely available if your organization is already paying for other Office products, like Word and Excel.

If you go to the SharePoint page that you want to add the videos to, you need to be able to see the “Edit” button on the page. If you do not see this button, either ask someone to give you permission, or better yet, tell them what you want to do and hopefully they will help.

Screenshot of a SharePoint page with an arrow pointing to the Edit button
Look for the “Edit” button on your SharePoint page

If you can edit the page, you can add a web part with the “+” button. (It turns into the “x” once you click on it.) Then search for the “File and Media” part. Web parts are like widgets in WordPress and can be used to add things like complex code, social media feeds, Planner or Trello boards, and more. From the “File and Media” web part, you can upload videos or other files from your OneDrive or computer.

A screenshot of Microsoft SharePoint highlighting where to click to insert files and media onto your page
Click on the “x” to add training videos to your SharePoint page

Improving screen sharing

When presenting in person or online, it can be useful to increase the pointer size and color. When you present content on a big screen with a small mouse, your audience can easily lose track of the pointer. Further, if you are presenting a lot of text that is black and white, it can be helpful to use a contrasting colorful mouse pointer.

You can make these changes by searching for pointer settings in your search bar or by clicking through Settings > Ease of Access > Mouse Pointer:

A screenshot of the Microsoft Windows menu where you can adjust the pointer size and color
Windows has a menu where you can adjust your pointer size and color.

The Ease of Access settings also include a magnifier, high-contrast color options, and color filters. They can be useful for people with low vision or in settings with poor lighting, blurry screens, etc. As cliché as it is, many librarians have glasses, and trying to read text off a projector from the back of a room or off a small laptop in a screen-sharing session can be a challenge without integrating these tools.

A screenshot showing how the Virtual Magnifying Glass app can magnify local sections of your screen.
The Virtual Magnifying Glass app allows you to magnify local sections of your screen.

In addition to the built-in magnifiers, a helpful third-party app is Virtual Magnifying Glass. Microsoft’s default magnifier expands the whole screen around your cursor, but this app is more like a physical magnifier, which highlights and expands a specific area. It includes settings for the size of the lens and the zoom level.

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