Ever since the pandemic, the dynamics of a normal human-style have drastically changed. As people struggle to adjust to a life of solitude and social distancing, one of the huge setbacks has been for online teaching from traditional classroom offline ones.
Teaching online is no small feat. It is very much a challenging task to teach a class of more than ten through staring at a screen for hours. However, with current lifestyles and gradual progress to a more enclosed space for teaching, online teaching has become a new norm.
For online teaching comes many features that need to be addressed; the equipment and how to go about with them.
For equipments, here are some of the basic things you require to initiate a class virtually:
1) Laptop/ Smartphone (and tripod)/ Tablet/ Desktop computer
The most inevitable one. For any class meant to be taught online, you first require a laptop with enough power, storage memory, and features that will help you to document your work and eventually present them to the class. A laptop would be most long-lasting and efficient when it comes to presentation. It requires an Operating system (OS) [Microsoft, Mac, etc], a display of 11″-14″, a memory of 250GB or more, processor.
You can also use smartphones with high-quality display, good memory power but you would require a tripod stand for stabilization and grip. Make sure your smartphone has a good camera, resolution, and stable internet connectivity.
You can also use tablets or desktops in place of laptops or smartphones for teachings. Tablets should have a 16GB storage minimum and a resolution greater than 720p with an ideal range from 8″-13″. Some of the good tablets can be Samsung Galaxy, Apple Ipad, Lenovo tablets.
For the best laptops, refer to our list of best laptops, according to your budget.
If you are using your smartphone, here are some good tripod options.
Lastly, if you are willing to build a PC, checkout our dedicated pc builds HERE.
If you are not at all tech-savvy, we suggest you go for all-in-one PC s, we shall list a few of them below.
2) Stylus/ Digital Pens
Stylus and digital pens are great tools for writing on tablets. It makes it easier for writing, drawing diagrams, or underlining text that might have difficulties with your fingers. Some of the best styli are Wacom Bamboo, Apple Pencil, Adonit Mark, and Jot, etc.
A digital pen can be used to store notes online while also writing on hard copy. Some also come with digital storage features that let you store them online while also digitally transcribing handwritten notes. Some of them are Neo N2, Sky WiFi, etc.
Here are some great stylus options
3) Drawing Tablets
Drawing tablets, can be connected to your pc or laptop, in order to write or draw on your screen, such that students can see the board work properly. Writing digitally, may take some practice to master, but it is a really cheap and effective solution.
Here are some best Drawing Tablets, you can get from Amazon.
Nowadays, most laptops come with inbuilt webcams. They can be sufficient enough to deliver content without too high of a quality. If you require high-quality video, peripheral webcams can be used.
It is vital to choose them considering factors like megapixels, resolution, efficiency, and frames per seconds. It is better if you choose a webcam with more than 30 fps, 640*480p resolution, and 2 megapixels and above. The best webcams are Microsoft and Logitech.
Here are some best webcams, to choose from
5) Headsets/ Mics
Having good quality audio is a must. You must be able to send your voice across without disruption and hear your students’ voices too. It is of utmost importance that communication is not hindered while teaching. There are many options to choose from many various price ranges and also the type of headphones you require, from wireless to noise-canceling and headsets with mics. Some of the good brands are Microsoft, Logitech, and Plantronics.
Here are some best headphones with mic, that we recommend.
NOTE: You can also use dedicated microphones, in case, you have a higher budget. Here are some great microphones we recommend.
Not all teachers require this but in most cases, a whiteboard with an LCD projector is required to teach. Its sizes range from anywhere between 16″-90″. It can also use technologies like Infrared, electromagnetic, or ultrasonic waves. It can be fixed or portable too and the price depends on the size, technology, and features.
Now with the equipment being said, it is important how you set up the entire thing efficiently. You need to be a bit tech-savvy or have basic knowledge about presentation apps and operating a computer or laptop before dwelling on online teaching.
- Choose your preferred app through which you wish to present. The most common ones used in India presently are Zoom, Google Classroom, Google Meet, Skype, Hangouts. There are often restrictions regarding the amount of people you can let into. Zoom is an ideal app that allows more than 100 participants (Large on) in a single meeting. Some apps have time limits while some might have software optimization issues. These apps give a chance to also write on message boards in case of doubts. It is best you research regarding the app, you want to use and try it beforehand.
- Your internet connection must be good enough. Check it before starting your class. A minimum of 1.5-2 Mbps is required for a free disruption class.
- Check your audio and video features before commencing the class. Show your face and have enough communication going on both ways.
- Make sure you go through your material before presenting them. Check them once in your phone or laptop before presenting and then coordinate with the required software.
- In many cases, recording lectures might be a good idea as oftentimes, students might face issues of health or internet issues. Recording lectures will give them access to those lectures later and also for future revision work.
- It is necessary to give students a ten to fifteen minutes break because it is shown that students often lose focus after a while. Keep them more interactive and engaging.
- Hold more online quizzes or take advantage of Google software like Google Forms as an automatic grading of attendance or testing. That way, you won’t have to go through the attendance ordeal.
- Organise a fixed schedule or technique depending on your way of teaching and the students’ way of absorbing information. Once you feel comfortable with a way of teaching that even students have no problem leaning on, stick to that and don’t change it repeatedly.
Just a small recommendation, from our side, is that, if you are using your laptop to take classes, for long hours connect it to a suitable monitor, and use a bigger screen, such that you don’t strain your eyes, for too long.
Lastly, before we move on to the conclusion, if you are taking classes for long hours through out the day, get your self seated in a comfortable , and argonomic position.
If possible get a good comfy chair, to maintain a good sitting posture, althrough out your classes. Here are some chair options for you.
Once you have your equipment and your setup all arranged and coordinated, it is just like any other class. It should be a learning experience for both the student and teacher to adapt to changes, get used to technology not known before, and ultimately, become an expert at it. While situations might so seek, it is ultimately up to us to rise to that challenge.