• Anthony Amitrano

From a Distance: Hybrid Teaching when Devices are Far Apart

For situations when your desktop computer may be in a less than ideal location in your classroom, you might need to add some strategies and tools to your tool belt.


Mrs. S’s Fourth Grade classroom has a SMARTboard, a couple of desktop computers (one connected to the SMARTboard) and a document camera. Due to the health conditions recommended by the State, there is a plexiglass divider set up in her “teaching area”. The computers are about 15-20 feet away with wires connected to the SMARTboard going through the ceiling.

Because she wants to make sure she is observing socially distant practices, it’s not realistic to have to constantly go back and forth to the desktops to manage her online students. And adding wires to the mix creates additional safety hazards for her and the in-school students.

Luckily, she has an additional Chromebook, wireless keyboard, and mouse that she can make use of that will help make managing all this a little easier.


Each tool is going to serve a purpose in its own way.


The Chromebook will be used for teachers to interact with and manage the Zoom meeting. Teachers will be able to see all students in the meeting, hear online students, see what the students see, and be heard by all the online students. The chromebooks will generally NOT be used to share content.

Desktop Computer/SMARTboard

The desktop that controls the SMARTboard will need to join the same Zoom meeting as the Chromebook. All content shared in the Zoom meeting will be shared from here. To do this in the meeting, you will:

  1. Share Screen from the Desktop – Be sure to share your entire screen to the Zoom meeting (not just a window or app)

  2. Manage the Desktop with the SMARTboard – You will be able to do 95% of the things you need to do via the SMARTboard. You’ll be able to use SMART Notebook, touch the screen to open apps, websites, or tools – essentially do anything you would do with the SMARTboard under “normal” circumstances.

  3. Use the wireless keyboard and mouse if needed – Although most things will work just fine via the touchscreen, you should use the keyboard and mouse when needed, viewing the computer desktop on the “big screen”.

Using the SMARTboard, wireless keyboard and mouse can all be done behind the plexiglass.

Document Camera

The doc cam will need to remain attached to the desktop computer for best results. With the computer so far away, the teacher will need to physically go over to the desktop computer. They can then manipulate whatever they need to with the document camera. Because the screen is being shared, all students in the Zoom and in school will be able to see.

Remember to bring the Chromebook along with you so you can see the students and they can all see and hear you.

Potential Issues and How to Deal

  1. Hosting controls on a Chromebook are limited:

  2. The polling feature is not available on a Chromebook.

  3. You cannot immediately suspend all participant activity.

  4. These hosting controls are not deal breakers while running a meeting, but if you are looking for them on a Chromebook, you won’t find them.

  5. Managing two devices is not easy (but not impossible, either). This will take practice, so give yourself a break. Do the best you can and don’t fault yourself for any difficulties or issues that come up.

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