Online classes are on a roll, and if you go behind the scene in a teacher’s daily online class setup, you will probably see a bunch of tech gadgets, a few teaching essentials, and of course, as always a trusty coffee mug on the side, because we can all agree that a good cup of coffee is mandatory!
But what equipment do you really need for an online class as a teacher?
Just like a soldier heading on to battle, you need to be equipped with a number of essential battle gears that will help you survive and succeed on the battlefield.
And today, we’re going over just that and more, here! So sit tight and read on!
Are you looking for the best laptops this 2021? We have reviewed highly recommended laptops ideal for teachers. Check it out below.
What equipment do I need for my online classes: 5 things to invest in!
Just a friendly tip! It’s best if you can set up your home office or workstation in a way that you don’t have to rearrange it every single day for your classes.
Try to set it up in a way where it’s stable and your equipment can stay put and will not get in your way or routine once you start your class. Don’t think too much when it comes to your set-up, make it simple as much as possible, and you’ll notice how smooth your classes will go by.
And without any further ado, let’s go ahead and start off our list!
1. A Reliable Laptop or Desktop Computer
First up on our list should be a reliable laptop. This will be your main battle gear for your online classes because of course, your online classes will be done through the use of a laptop.
You do have the option to use a tablet or phone but in terms of reliability, ease of use, and accessibility, you should go for a laptop when teaching online. A laptop will be your backbone, and you will mostly work with your laptop even for tasks outside your classes.
For a laptop that you will use online, it’s a must for you to go with a laptop with the set of specs listed below:
- Intel Core i3 and above/AMD Ryzen 3 and above
- At least 8GB of RAM
- Equipped with a high-definition camera
- HDD or SDD storage device with at least 128GB
- Operating System: Windows 10- or Mac OS X
- The adequate screen size of at least 15-inch so you’ll be able to see your students and easily read texts without any challenge to your eyesight
- Good quality built-in microphone just in case your headset or external microphone falters
- WiFi 802.11ac
These are some of the specs that a good laptop for online teaching should have because getting a laptop with lower specs from what I listed above might give you headaches in the long run because it won’t be able to keep up with your pace.
Eye Strains are a big no-no, especially you’ll be in front of the computer for more than 8 hours or less every day of the week that’s why it’s also best if you can get a laptop with an HD or Full HD display, this way your eyes will thank you because you’ll reduce the risk of eye strain from poor resolution display.
2. A Good Sound System; Headset, Earphones, Microphone, Bluetooth speaker
Aside from your main equipment, the next most important thing you should consider getting is a high-quality sound system—a good set of headphones with a built-in microphone or earphones; or an external microphone paired with a Bluetooth speaker.
Most preferably headphones are the way to go since they’re like a 2-in-1 solution offering you both the clarity you need in order for your students to hear you loud and clear and vice versa as well online classes.
They’re also much easier to set up since you’ll only use one jack for both input and output audio or you can get one that’s wireless for a hassle-free experience.
You’ll find headphones with noise-canceling features which is great as this can help reduce background noises especially if you are with other family members with you in the house while you teach.
If you’re a bit bothered with having something over your head and on your ears while you teach, then the other option for you is getting an external microphone with a Bluetooth speaker or earphones. You can check out some of the best Bluetooth speakers recommended for teachers here—and also the best microphones for online teaching here.
3. A High Definition Camera
We all know how fast everything shifted online which then posed a challenge for teachers to establish a strong connection because an online learning environment was uncharted territory for most.
Establishing your teaching presence is a must to keep students engaged and laser-focused during discussions and activities.
And to do that, aside from your students hearing you clearly and you hearing them crystal clear as well, the next thing to add to your list is an HD Camera. Letting your students see you clear and well poses great importance in their engagement with online learning.
Letting them feel and see your presence during classes has the same vital contribution with how they will participate in class. Creating that sense of instructor presence will keep them in line and engaged with what needs to be discussed and tackled for the day.
Most laptops are already equipped with HD webcams but some of them tend to be low quality and if that’s your case the next best thing for you is to purchase an external webcam.
And to know what webcam is best for your online teaching setup, better go with a webcam that can stream with a 1080p resolution and at least 30fps (frames per second). These are the minimum specs that you should look for to ensure that your video output is high-quality and smooth.
4. A Ring Light
Now you might be skeptical about this one, but trust me ring lights are not just for Youtube Influencers and Tiktokers.
A ring light can make a world of difference when it comes to your appearance on video, and we all know how important it is for us to look presentable especially in front of our students. You also don’t want them to struggle to see you clearly especially if you are using a whiteboard or classroom props while you teach.
Lighting is key to make yourself presentable and visible during your online classes. There are other options other than a ring light like umbrella lighting, softboxes, and of course one of the best and free option for you is natural sunlight—if you happen to be lucky and you’re able to set up your desk by the window then go ahead at it and enjoy free lighting with a side of Vitamin D.
But I do highly recommend using a ring light so if ever the sun seems to be hiding for the day, you’ll still be able to get decent lighting that will help brighten up your appearance on screen and help you be more clear to your students at any time of the day.
5. A Set of Ergonomic Furniture
I cannot emphasize this enough, please get yourself a few ergonomic pieces of furniture. Chairs and tables to be precise, and there are other ergonomic supports that you can add to your work set up too.
Previously, teachers were always standing and walking around to check on their students trying to get to other classes, and faculty meetings.
But now, all of that has changed, we all know that it’s a fact that you’ll be sitting in front of your computer for 8 hours or more tending to your classes, meetings, checking projects and assignments, and other teaching shenanigans and that can seriously take a toll on your health.
And this is where ergonomic support comes in. Ergonomic furniture is not just to reduce pain and to help maintain correct posture which is already convincing enough, they also help in boosting your productivity in soaring levels.
Get yourself an ergonomic chair in order for you to reduce chances of pain from the wrong sitting position and to maintain a healthy posture as it helps with realigning your spine and even prevent arthritis and other work-related injuries overall.
A standing desk is also a great option as studies show that this type of desk helps you be active while you work. It also helps with digesting food especially after breakfast and lunch which we know you’ll be eating by your desk especially during busy days.
Chronic back pain is also aided since you’ll be standing up with a standing desk hence the name. And while it helps with your back pain the standing position while working also helps reduce fatigue and boost energy levels.
And lastly, there’s just something different about standing up while working because you’ll instantly feel more productive like your back in the classroom as you’ll be able to move freely as well compared to sitting down.
You’ll feel like you’re ready to take on the day and conquer the world!
Additional Equipment and Tech Gadgets To Consider
Aside from the 5 must-have equipment for online teaching I have mentioned above, there are also a few additional items that you can consider to help make your online teaching transition easier.
Classroom Props and Decors
If you’re teaching a younger set of students, classroom props and decors are still as important as they were when you were teaching in face-to-face classes. This will help make your online classes more exciting and fun for both you and your students.
Fun is always key to keep your virtual classes interesting and not so boring because it really is a challenge to keep them focused, especially in a class that they participate in through a screen. So better arm yourself up with a few props and decor to make it the most exciting part of their day.
Green Screen Background
A green screen background is not really a necessity but can be a great addition to your home classroom set up as this will be particularly helpful especially if you can’t find a spot in your home where there is a decent background.
A green screen background can help set the tone for your class as it lets you choose any background of your liking as you can input any picture which can be a classroom, outdoors, or any background that can engage your class more.
If for example, your lesson would be all about the life cycle of a butterfly then you can change backgrounds from time to time showing the transition of a larvae to a caterpillar and finally into a colorful butterfly.
This will increase student discourse as they will be engaged and focused on you while you teach with different enchanting backgrounds.
Whiteboard and Marker
There will always be instances where you will suddenly need to write something up to show to the class. That’s why you should always have a whiteboard and marker at bay.
This is also particularly helpful during recitation as you can also have the class have their own whiteboard and marker to share illustrations and diagrams with the whole class during discussions.
Alternatively, you can opt for an online whiteboard but it can be easier for younger kids to use a physical one compared to an online one.
Laptop or Monitor Stand
Your laptop or computer screen should always be eye level but there are times a laptop or a computer screen on top of a table does not provide sufficient elevation for you to be comfortable looking at it.
This can lead to slouching and incorrect posture as you will be looking down on the screen bringing your chin close to your neck and eventually cause neck, shoulder, and back pain.
And we do not want any of those pains occurring, that’s why a laptop or monitor stand is a great way to prevent that from happening. A laptop or monitor stand can elevate your screen to a level where slouching can be prevented making you productive and pain-free!
A Wireless Mouse and A Quiet Keyboard
I love using a wireless mouse and a quiet keyboard. If you ever find yourself having to tug your mouse cable while you’re using it you’ll definitely appreciate a wireless mouse.
You can place your mouse anywhere you like as long as there is sufficient area where you can let it roam without being limited by wires and they also take up less space on your desk giving you more area to freely work on.
A quiet keyboard also takes away the distraction especially when your students are working on something, we can all agree that nobody wants to hear annoying clickity clacks of a noisy keyboard while they’re focusing on their tasks.
A Backup Internet Connection
Sometimes things happen beyond our control. There might be a storm passing by and affecting your internet connection or maybe you forgot to settle your internet bill.
If in case your main internet connection suddenly decides to act up, you should always be ready with a back up connection in order for you to stay connected to your online classes. And just in case that it does happen, you’ll be thankful that you had a Plan B.
Now that you’re informed…
We all have our own preferences when it comes to setting up our workspace but these items are definitely a must-have to make your online teaching experience hassle-free and easier as well.
Find out what works for you and experiment a little, see what makes you feel comfortable and what makes you feel like everything is in place. It’s always a trial and error process until you get that workspace that you can work with for more than 8 hours or so.
I hope this article helped you a lot and gave you an idea of which equipment to get, and I hope you’ll have a great online teaching experience from here on out!
Until our next one! Happy online teaching!