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Essential Devices and Tools for Online Teaching

Navigating the Virtual Classroom: Essential Devices and Tools for Online Teaching Excellence

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In the ever-evolving landscape of education, online teaching has become an integral part of the learning experience. As an online teacher, having the right devices, gadgets, systems, and applications is crucial for delivering quality tuition. Let's delve into the essential Devices and Tools for Online Teaching that can elevate your online teaching game.

1. Reliable Devices: The Foundation of Virtual Instruction

a. Laptop or Desktop Computer:

A robust computer is your primary workhorse. Choose a device with sufficient processing power, a clear display, and a reliable webcam for seamless communication.

I personally use an HP Spectre x360, but I was a lot happier when I had my Dell Inspiron 15. You don't necessarily need a computer with so much space. In my case, I chose a 1TB computer because I have almost 20 years worth class plans and resources. I do need to clean up a little bit and let go of some files tough.

An extra, external monitor is not essential but I do use one. It make it a lot easier to separate what I want my students to see. They don't really need to keep looking at all the programs and applications I keep on my background or taskbar.

I use a HUAWEI AD80HW Display 24 Inch Monitor Full HD and it makes it easier on my eyes as well. Especially considering the long hours I spend looking at it.

b. Tablet or Digital Writing Pad:

For subjects that involve visual explanations or drawing, a tablet or digital writing pad can be an invaluable addition, allowing you to illustrate concepts in real-time.

I would say that, depending on the focus of your online courses, having a tablet on the side is not essential. For maths, for instance, or if need to use handwriting and drawing having a tablet would be a must. You can simply connect your tablet to your computer and/or communication application and have what you are drawing presented on screen for your audience to see.

Whenever needed, I pair my iPad 9th Generation to my laptop and have drawing games or activities done with my students. As you can tell, this tablet is not the newest or latest version, but totally does the job.

2. Cutting-Edge Gadgets: Enhancing Interactivity and Engagement

a. Quality Webcam:

Invest in a high-definition webcam to ensure clear video quality. A good camera can significantly impact the overall experience for your students.

As for a webcam, I use a Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam HD. Although the built-in can that comes with my laptop is not that bad, Logitech C922 Pro has features and a high quality I cannot get with the buit-in camera. The auto zoom, for instance, is a great feature if you are considering recording your lessons to possibly put it out there, on Youtube or any of the offline programs.

b. Noise-Cancelling Headset:

Create a focused and distraction-free environment with noise-cancelling headphones. This gadget ensures that your voice comes across crystal clear, enhancing communication.

At the moment, I have a MPow PA071A which I have had for at least 2 years, and I am very happy with it. Its cushion is starting to wear off now but, considering how much I have used it for these many years, it is not surprising. Its quality is great, it does the job, and I love it for having this control that allows me to mute it when I have a cold and need to sneeze or cough. Nobody deserves to keep listening to their teacher sneeze or cough.

The Jabra Evolve 40 MS Stereo Headset is in my wish list for next. The fact that it is wired does not bother me. I usually go for those headsets with a control. I know we can mute ourselves on most communication applications we use but having the control physically in my hands gives me extra insurance.

Perhaps you are the type of teacher who moves around a little bit more in class, who needs to walk to whiteboard. If so, I recommend the Jabra Evolve 65 SE Wireless.

3. Robust Systems: Creating a Seamless Teaching Environment

a. Stable Internet Connection:

A reliable and high-speed internet connection is non-negotiable. It ensures uninterrupted lessons and a smooth virtual classroom experience.

I have recently upgraded my internet connection which is at this very moment running WiFi at 308 mbps. You do not need to have such fast connection to have a good enough quality live session with your students. However, if you cannot invest in this sort of high speed service, I would recommend you to connect your computer directly to your modem using one of these ethernet cables, or you can have a WiFi booster, if you are not close to your modem.

b. Backup Power Supply:

Power outages can disrupt your lessons. Having a backup power supply, like an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), ensures continuity in case of unexpected disruptions.

So far, I have only had a power cut that made me cut my lesson short once. I was able to hotspot my mobile connection to my laptop and my laptop battery charge was enough to keep us working until the end of the session.

Having a backup power bank such as this AC Outlet Portable Laptop Power Bank could be the solution. This outlet could also be a good insurance if you are a nomad teacher, traveling around the world and teaching from different spots.

4. Dynamic Applications: Tools for Interactive and Engaging Classes

a. Video Conferencing Platforms:

Select a user-friendly video conferencing platform that supports features like screen sharing, breakout rooms, and interactive whiteboards. Popular choices include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet.

I personally use Zoom. It is a good investment for a good quality platform with whiteboards, apps and everything I need in one place, sometimes a lot more than I need. If I could, I would ask them the ability to select the features I want on my application because it is so much , and I do not use all of it.

If you are on a budget and prefer not to spend with conferencing platforms, Microsoft Teams have been the choice for a lot of educators.

b. Interactive Whiteboard Software:

Enhance your teaching materials with interactive whiteboard applications like BitPaper or Explain Everything. These tools enable you to draw diagrams, annotate, and engage students visually.

With Zoom Meetings I have a great whiteboard and I only use in very few specific cases. As I said earlier, if you use a tablet, you can coonect it to your laptop and transform it in a whiteboard using the share screen feature of your conferencing platform. I have heard that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is a quite popular tablet, but I will stick to my old iPad 9th Generation.

c. Learning Management System (LMS):

Implementing an LMS like Moodle or Canvas can help you organize course materials, assessments, and track student progress effectively.

I have used LMS before and I have access to grogram platform here on my own website. However, if you do not access to one, you can adapt features you have in our own computer with MS Office or the ones in Google [Google Docs, Google Classroom, etc.]. Sharing access to them with your students is really easy.

d. Communication Tools:

Utilize messaging and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom for efficient communication with students outside of class hours.

I chose Google Classroom and a simple organization on my Gmail contact list. The best thing is it not costing a thing.

5. Ergonomic Setup: Prioritizing Comfort for Extended Teaching Hours

a. Comfortable Chair and Desk:

Invest in an ergonomic chair and desk to ensure comfort during long teaching sessions. Maintaining good posture is essential for overall well-being.

Let's not forget that even if you do have the most comfortable chair and desk, you should still have breaks, stretch your legs and move a little bit. I have to say that my current chair and desk are not the most comfortable. I have added the following desk and chair to my wish list, so check it out how it would a dream come true.

b. Adequate Lighting:

Proper lighting is key for a clear video presence. Position yourself with natural or well-distributed artificial light to avoid shadows and enhance visibility.

I would choose a good LED desk lamp or white(ish) like to the room where you are teaching. Good lighting makes us look more presentable at times. A bright LED desk lamp would make it easy for you to read any notes you might have on your desk, and it would also make you look better on screen for you audience to see.

Equipped for Educational Excellence

In the realm of online teaching, having the right devices, gadgets, systems, and applications is the key to providing a seamless and enriching learning experience. As technology continues to advance, staying updated with the latest tools and platforms will ensure that you remain at the forefront of online education. Invest wisely, prioritize student engagement, and create a virtual classroom that fosters learning and growth. With the right setup, you're not just teaching; you're transforming the digital learning landscape.

If you want to know more about my practice, systems and how I work, leave a comment or DM me.

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Edna Allen

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