When was the last time you feel like having no means to handle a virtual class? Have you solved it? If you’re still in the same situation, I challenge you to answer the question,
“What equipment do I need to teach online?”
With the growing demand for classes via the internet, the need for essential equipment has also become real. In this post, you will learn what exactly is needed to make it right from the beginning.
In the past five years, there has been a significant increase in online education that opens up new avenues for teachers. Many have joined and shifted to online teaching for the reasons of easier access and flexibility.
It can seem obvious, but a lack of tech tools is critical to make sure you have the right equipment. If you have been applying for a teaching job online, you know that one major question is how reliable your equipment is.
Getting started can feel a bit daunting, but not when you make it look professional. So are you ready to stage and own a great teaching online set-up?
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Equipment You Need to Teach Online
1) A Computer with the right specs
Electronic devices change different circumstances in an online class. The computer or laptop with the right specs for online teaching will make it easy on your part to run a class, as well as engage your students in collaborative activities through technology-based learning.
Whether it’s a laptop you prefer or a desktop computer, check if it has at least the minimum requirements. An i5 quad-core computer is mostly recommended for online teaching. There is also the Intel core i3 processor. Specifications lower than these may not be fast enough and can produce time delays and lag during teaching.
Since download and upload speeds are important for downloading courseware, you need a larger memory or RAM. Some choose between 4GB and 8GB or higher. The larger your memory, the larger projects you can do.
I have explained in detail the right computer specs for online teaching here.
Should you use a desktop or a laptop?
This decision is entirely up to you. Both desktop and laptop computers are right for online teaching. You will be able to determine which option is right for you by considering some of their advantages and benefits.
A desktop computer, of course, offers more powerful features. It has a larger monitor and a more comfortable keyboard. It is generally easier to handle, and the starting point is relatively less expensive. Also, it has a lower risk of theft. However, they are definitely bulky in size and have a separate monitor. So it’s hard for you to take the computer from place to place.
Laptops are lightweight and portable which is a lot more appealing, but may not sound great if you are looking for a lot of memory space. It also requires you to use a battery to power a laptop. Laptops, though, can regulate their performance with less battery power while adhering to their optimum level.
For the online teacher, using a laptop is both delight and freedom to work anywhere around the house or workplace. It’s so comforting to get some fresh air in the afternoon or catch the sunset on your balcony even at the height of an online class. What about heading to your favorite quiet space in a coffee shop for a class in the evening?
Go for a laptop if you want to a high level of transportability and high performance. But understand which specifications you need to be able to maximize the potential of a laptop computer.
2) A good microphone designed for online use
One of the major issues in online teaching is the poor quality of voice. The reason is that sound is often overlooked or a taken-for-granted aspect. If you want the best camera for a good video experience, the sound of your voice should go hand-in-hand. A static or unclear voice will lead your students distracted, confused, and worst is uninterested.
Know and understand the different types of microphones. There’s the condenser which is very efficient in capturing delicate sounds and higher frequencies. You also have the mic with a headset which is popular with noise cancellations. Of course, the lavalier or lapel type that you can clip to your shirt.
Whether your course lessons require audio-only, voice-over slides, screen sharing, streaming, or live video; your microphone should deliver the best audio. Basically, the right model can ensure that you and your students can hear each other without distractions.
Using a headset helps you listen to your voice and your students will hear you clearly supporting their understanding. Take a look, we found and reviewed 20 of the best microphones for online teaching.
Should you go wireless?
Wireless headphones connect to your computer from a distance with Bluetooth and work without a cord. This is the reason why more and more teachers are shifting to the “wireless” mode.
Top headphone manufacturers have been improving their models for the best wireless headphones for online teaching. So you will find top-of-the-line headphones with microphones that are equipped with noise-canceling and sound-leak features to flawlessly improve the sound you and your students hear.
One great benefit of going wireless is you can teach cored-free and hands-free. Many of those working at home are unable to leave their station because of microphones being connected to the computer. You probably have experienced your voice going static from time to time? It could because you keep moving with the wired phones on your head.
A wireless headphone with a microphone gives you the freedom to go away from your computer without sacrificing the quality of sound. Who doesn’t like the privilege of walking as you talk? Not only you can go peek at the window of what’s happening outside, but you can choose a perfect spot you like any time of the day.
3) The Best webcam to teach online
Your computer has a built-in webcam but obviously is less flexible when it comes to lighting. Since you are teaching through Skype, Zoom, or other platforms, being visible is your first step to delivering effective online classes. You should experience full HD compatibility.
You are lucky if your webcam has an autofocus that lets you hold different objects up to the camera at any distance without appearing blurry. Your students learn better when they see clearly what you are presenting.
Many students are learning via a mobile phone or tablet. So you can imagine the smaller screen that makes your image very small. This can become a serious distraction and delay of learning. Your thoughtful webcam will let them feel you care by giving them a good video.
Some cameras have a 100-degree field of view, which gives you even more space to play with when creating your online classroom. A larger camera lens can catch more light which instantly produces higher quality image capture. A model with a 1080p resolution sensor is perfect.
The best webcam delivers a clear and smooth capture and engaging enough for immersive education. Inquire about bandwidth to support video calling applications.
4) A reliable online teaching platform
How teachers provide the best tools to make their classrooms more engaging, is the same way you are providing your students with the best online teaching platform. A good teaching interface offers screen sharing, video conferencing, conference calling, and even mobile use.
An online learning platform or e-learning is a space or portal filled with educational implements to administer course content with extensive interaction and social learning. Pick an interface with live instruction on particular subjects and topics.
Choose a portal that lets you host your class from chats to videos, audio podcasts, presentations, and other digital content. It means, your teaching platform must effectively create a dynamic classroom environment online.
Anyone can literally learn anything online and your online teaching platform will help you provide a more streamlined lecture prep experience. Imagine yourself a virtual mentor who interacts in a personalized way. Students will feel this effort and will likewise collaborate with whatever that you want them to learn.
Skype, for example, is best if you are teaching one-on-one online. Zoom is very engaging both to students and faculty. There is GoogleMeet that integrates with Gmail, also are Goto Meeting, Teachable, Udemy, and Educadium, among the most used interfaces. If YouTube before is popular for watching videos, well, it is now a great platform for learning many new things.
5) Secure and reliable internet connection
You can’t probably find an extremely “flawless” internet, but there are internet providers you can rely on when it comes to speed consistency. A cable connection is highly-recommendable for its broadband high-speed internet.
Online ESL companies require their teachers to be wired to the internet. Wi-Fi can make the connection less stable and impact the quality of teaching. Although some teachers do not have issues using Wi-Fi, check your site and plan before deciding to go Wi-Fi.
Speed varies depending on your location and distance from the nearest tower. Many educators said a minimum-enough requirement for distance learning is 1.5 Mbps internet speed while some say an 8 Mbps can be sufficient.
However, if you can avail of 20 Mbps speed both for upload and download, or 50Mbps, all the better. A 400 Kbps standard DSL connection will give you the best video chat experience. If you are experiencing a less stable internet connection, I recommend that you use an Ethernet cable. The wired connection remains the most reliable when it comes to a much more stable and faster connection.
Should you use a Wired or Wi-Fi internet connection?
Reality says that wired networks are proven faster than wireless or Wi-Fi. The major reason is the separate cable used to directly connect the computer to the network resulting in faster data transmission. A wired network also is more secure for your online teaching since it is not weighed down by unnecessary traffic interference.
Using Wi-Fi can be considered as long as you have a stable internet connection or a plan that secures you a sure internet transmission and will not compromise your online class.
I would highly recommend a portable hotspot so you get both an internet backup at home and a moving router that can allow you to communicate with your class even while away from home. This is your chance to travel the world while teaching online.
If you’re having issues with why your internet is so slow, know the reasons why.
6) One Portable Mobile Hotspot
Although this equipment is optional, what if one day your internet will have issues? At times like this, your portable hotspot bridges that gap that links you to your students. It makes time teaching flexible as you are no longer bounded to work in one place.
If you’re using your phone as a mobile hotspot, it acts as a mini router that works by tapping data signals as you would to your regular Wi-Fi network. So you can have the device as a secondary or backup internet connection.
Some mobile hotspots have the ability to connect you up to 5 or even more devices so it makes great equipment if you are working with colleagues on a project. This equipment not only gets your laptop or tablet online but allows you to share the signal with others who are within the same range as you.
The best portable hotspots for teachers should get you connected anytime and anywhere. While it may not provide the speed required for chatting and streaming, it lets you send important announcements and communicate to your class when you’re away from home.
Portable internet access points allow you to connect to a WiFi network using your computer or another device even when you’re away from home.
Overall, teaching online these days is a great opportunity. Not only it gives you the benefit of learning online technology, but a chance to teach in the comfort of your home. Therefore, your equipment needs to be reliably fast and sustainable.
There is no other way to get your message right but with the right devices. The right equipment also helps you lessen online technical difficulties. This is most important if you really want to offer your students the best online learning experience possible.
Online teaching may be the new normal carrying many challenges. But doing your research, planning your methods, and teaching with the right equipment is what will sync everything together.
Do you know of any other equipment needed to teach online? How nice to hear your thoughts in the comments.