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Acquiring practical experience

Blog N° 11


First experiences with Zoom

The first three months were important to get to know the tools of the video conferencing platform and to observe the reactions of the participants.

While archiving the collected material, I could notice a growing collective awareness of the new tool and the development of certain habits in the group.


Quelle: Archiving Video Conferencing Material by Paolo Fossa

The first three months were important to get to know the tools of the video conferencing platform and to observe the reactions of the participants.

While archiving the collected material, I could notice a growing collective awareness of the new tool and the development of certain habits in the group.

This ritual phase is very important because it allows to develop a sense of trust and group, as well as to support the concentration for the transition from a phase of pre-work and work, especially if it is physical.

The first hour was very difficult for everyone, the fears of not being able to make the programme work properly were joined by the pedagogical fears of not being able to teach content.

In addition, as with all stopgap solutions, and this one was one, there is resistance at the beginning and we try to rebuild what is known.

In fact, despite the fact that video conferencing was an existing tool that had been known and used for several years, as I have detailed in previous blogs, none of my colleagues had used it before, so we were all faced with a new experience, unprepared and perhaps not very willing.

I remember being very tense for the first hour because I didn't know if the times I had calculated would be too long or too short. I didn't know how long the students would take to learn the exercises, whether I would be able to correct them and I hoped that no technical problems would arise.

I didn't know which room in the house would be best, because it not only had to be the right size with the right technical equipment (power socket near the laptop, floor without carpet, etc.), but it also had to be a room where my wife and my daughter didn't have to come for that hour and a half.

So at 11am on 21 April 2020 I prepared everything and at 10:40am, 20 minutes before the start of the class, I entered the programme, entered my data, entered the password and opened the virtual room.

A few minutes later the first students arrived, each in a different room of their own flats, none in a room suitable for a dance class, at least according to the known criteria.

All with the same problems and fears, which were solved in different personal ways.

Some students had moved furniture to adapt the room to the needs of the training, others used mobile phones. Still others who shared a flat attended classes together, some stood outside the university cafeteria....

It wasn't long before all my fears disappeared and a relaxed environment was created where we could not only work together but also smile and talk about the difficulties of the situation without it becoming too embarrassing.

Of course, not all the shots were the best, and to talk we had to turn the microphone on and off, but this sharing of intimacy, who had a plant by their side, who was dancing in the kitchen with the cup of coffee on the sink, all made the situation more human.

Of course, it couldn't be a long-term solution or a real alternative to dance classes, which still require presence and physical contact. But this way we could move forward together without losing ourselves in our own fear and loneliness.



Quelle: Archiving Video Conferencing Material by Paolo Fossa


Just a few lessons were enough to understand the limitations and potential of this tool for teaching dance.

The first challenge was to overcome mistrust. One's own and those of the participants.

Then, it is necessary to grasp the possible uses of the communication medium in which dance classes take place.


The virtual room of the video conference has specific dynamics and offers ample space for the in-depth study of topics that cannot be dealt with during a face-to-face lesson, both for reasons of time and because of teaching dynamics that would be slowed down too much, which would ultimately prove counterproductive.

This specificity of the communications medium has allowed me to add dedicated parts to the classes to explore themes and exercises in depth.


In addition, the images are transmitted by the eye of a fixed camera which must be used with awareness of the medium.

The camera is in fact in most cases incorporated in the laptop or telephone, which makes the transmission possible and is not able to follow the action of the subject outside the pre-established frame. Furthermore, depending on the angle of the camera, not only does it affect the perspective of the movement but also the emotion it arouses.

Having studied cinematography in my youth, I was able to recognise these communicative parameters and use my experience to make the explanations of the exercises more accessible.

I will dedicate a special blog later on the language used by the video conference.


Through the archiving process I was able to analyse the dance classes in the video conference, noting each time which situations, exercises and teaching structures worked well and with which groups.

Furthermore, by comparing my personal reflections perceived and noted during the direct experience with those made later during the work of storing the video recordings, I was able to distance myself from factors linked to the emotionality of the moment.

Another very useful element for my research work was the feedback from the participants that I collected, sometimes immediately after the classes, very few, sometimes months later, most of it.

Also in this case the feedback linked to the memory of the lessons and not to the enthusiasm of the moment was more precise and essential.


My next blog will be entirely dedicated to the feedback I receive from participants in my online classes.




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