Nowadays, many online ESL teachers incorporate green screens into their lectures as there are numerous ways to use them to elevate your lessons. In fact, green screens have grown so popular among online ESL teachers and students that some organisations or schools even urge their instructors to utilise them.
Undeniably, to get your green screen setup just right, you’ll need to sacrifice some time and money. However, the good news is that creating a green screen environment is neither difficult nor costly.
What is a Green Screen?
Green screen technology (also known as chroma keying) provides pupils with a plethora of exciting learning opportunities. It’s simple to implement even on a shoestring budget, works across a wide range of topic areas and grade levels, and is extremely useful when teaching remotely.
A single-colour backdrop would work (usually green, but sometimes blue). It’s typically constructed from muslin cloth, sometimes cardboard, canvas, or green paint. For the sake of this guide, we’ll concentrate on fabric, which is the most popular material that online ESL instructors utilise.
Why Should You Use a Green Screen for Remote Teaching?
Green screen projects, far from being a neat novelty, have the ability to provide students with rich, creative learning experiences. Here, we highlight a few significant criteria of this technology, academic wise:
They become the source of embodied learning.
When students engage in such projects, playing a book character or different role-playing professions such as an explorer or a doctor, their bodies and emotions get actively involved in the learning process, which subsequently deepens the learning. The embodied learning approach, which claims that physical movement activates the brain, is based on this mind-body connection.
They encourage inquiry learning.
Green screen projects are ideal for inquiry learning, and students conduct their research and problem-solving around major subjects of their interest for this learning style. This work is far more interesting than what we see in most standard courses as it promotes more student autonomy.
They are social.
Socially building knowledge—that is, sharing learning and expertise in a community—is essential for growth, understanding, and new curiosity. Green screen projects are a great fit if your classroom culture appreciates and aspires for collaboration.
They are frequently cross-curricular.
Reading, writing, theatre, music, and generally, at least one other academic area, such as social studies or science, are incorporated into these projects.
Overall, the use of a green screen in an online classroom has several obvious benefits:
- It gives you a better and more professional appearance.
- To inspire discussion and evaluate comprehension, you can utilise a variety of background visuals.
- You may coincide with apps like ManyCam to increase classroom involvement.
- You do not have to put in much effort in renovating your actual workplace just to spice up your virtual background.
- The correct use of green screens can help you gain a better and more immersive teaching experience.
Meanwhile, there are also some less evident benefits:
- No embarrassing moments since your students cannot see your personal belongings, clothing, or private areas (or the mess) in your home.
- During your lessons, your family members or roommates will be able to go about the house without having to duck and crawl behind you.
- You can travel or work from practically any location (e.g. a hotel room) without your students knowing, which equates to more privacy!
Items Needed to Use a Green Screen
The following items are required for any green-screen project:
- A green screen: This ranges from cheap to expensive, but many online ESL teachers use green fabric or green paper.
- A gadget for recording: A smartphone or tablet would be the most convenient option.
- Green screen software: These programmes allow you to edit your current green screen video and add new background. An example of a green screen (chroma key) app is Chromavid.
Setting Up a Green Screen
First, download or take a snapshot of a landscape (from life, books, the internet, or a hand-drawn image). After that, choose a photo to serve as the base layer. Lastly, make a video and edit it using your software of choice.
That’s it! Easy as pie.
For more information on setting up a green screen for online teaching, you can refer to this helpful Youtube video. In this video, Michael Wasserstein walks you through the crucial components of setting up a green screen for remote teaching. Wasserstein is a content contributor for ESL Job Exchange and an award-winning online ESL teacher who uses a green screen when instructing.
Some Helpful Tips and Tricks When Using A Green Screen
- Make sure no one dresses in green. If your outfit is green, the special effect may cause half of your body to vanish!
- Make sure the shot is focused on the green screen and does not extend beyond the edges, as this will inevitably affect the quality of the final video.
- Avoid shadows!
- Encourage students to utilise Pixabay while looking for a background; this site offers free images that can be used without any copyright or fee restrictions. Meanwhile, Safe Search Kid is another essential service to note, particularly for younger children. It gives you access to a Google-powered collection of filtered and safe photos.
- You might want to invest in a tripod. It can be difficult to keep the camera still if you are filming for an extended period. A tripod will assist you with this and eliminate the unwelcome shaky hand effect!
Go Green, Go Green Screen!
Green screens provide a method for teachers and students alike to keep exploring the world, addressing significant issues, and challenging one’s self artistically at the same time when actual travel has become almost impossible. You just need to have a little creativity, and the possibilities are endless!
It will take a few days for you to become familiar with the chroma key programme. Having said that, green screening will become second nature to you in a month (or less), and you’ll wonder how you ever managed your online lessons before the magic of green screens.
For more beneficial ESL teaching ideas, check out English Teaching 101 blog entries!