Uncomfortably close is one way to describe the opening scene in Citizen Kane. Orson Wells tightens the camera close to a dying man's lips, so that we can hear him whisper, "Rosebud" into an eager jouranlist's ear. The film was remarkable for its time. Orson Wells brought the camera into areas once private, that normal people didnt experience in film.
Remote learning is doing the same thing, but in real life. This presents unexpected challengeds and opportunities. Here's what Jennifer Pierce, PhD has to say when teaching acting this semester:
I am so thankful I was teaching acting this semester. It has been pure magic! I would do it again in a heart beat.
They talk about HBs use of turning mics and cameras on and off. We came to the same practice. Because one student’s performance was so riveting everyone started turning their cameras off so we could see more of them. It was a dramatic moment In it’s own right. It was a show of respect for what was being given. It was powerful.
The intimacy of the format is surprising—we have a tendency of thinking of these tools as being alienating because they lack what we view as “true” human presence. But I am getting a closer view of my students than I ever have before. I can see their breathing up close. Their facial muscles. The placement of their tongue. I see their homes. Their childhood bedrooms. The inside of their cars. Their backyards. Their kitchens. Their pets. Their families. They come early to the Zoom rooms and they stay late. And they have been giving their all. Not in spite of the Pandemic. But because of it.
As a facilitator you're directing an expereince that can foster intimacy and learning. Orson Wells understood this when crafting a notable shot in Citizen Kane. The camera view shows us everything, even the background is in sharp view. It gives us all the context we need to know. In the background, through a window we see a little boy enjoying his improvished life while his mother Agnes signs his guardanship over to the state.
Unlike a movie director, you can't control every aspect the experience, but you do have control, and permission from your audience to to manage the experience. Stay open to unexpected opportunties and look for deeper connections that you can make with others.