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Planning on teaching online but are plagued by the thoughts of tech issues and uncertainties in this unknown online environment?
Anything can happen when you’re teaching online. Let’s prepare you for teaching online without suffering from the plight of your own tech issues.
So, what are the technical requirements for teaching online?
Technical Requirements for Online Teaching
Consider checking that you have the following:
- A reliable laptop/computer with 8GB RAM and an i5 processor
- Stable and secure internet connection
- A headset
- A mouse and keypad
- An HD webcam
- Multi-camera software
1. A Reliable Laptop
The faster your system, the more reliable your laptop will be.
It’s best to go for a laptop that can support all your classes, whether you conduct classes one-on-one or in groups.
Some platforms require teachers to have a high-speed computer to teach in their online classrooms.
For this reason, consider investing in a computer that has 8 GB RAM with an Intel Core i5 processor or above. This will ensure the smoothest experience for you and your students.
Most online teaching platforms run well on Google Chrome, so make sure to have that fully up-to-date, along with Windows 8/10 or Mac OS 10.10x or higher.
The laptop is the core element for online teaching, and without that, we wouldn’t be able to teach any class! So please invest wisely and consider your choices.
Check out our best laptops for online teaching for some inspiration on your purchase.
2. Stable and Secure Internet Connection
A stable and secure internet connection is vital for online teaching. And it’s actually tricky to get right.
There are so many potential internet connection problems. I remember having to cycle to a neighbor’s house just to get a good internet connection.
The internet speed requirements vary vastly from company to company. For example:
Zoom: 1.5 Mbps upload and download speed
Dada: 2 Mbps upload and 10 Mbps download speed
Preply: 10Mpbs upload and 10 Mbps download speed
VIPKid: 20 Mpbs download speed
Gogokid: 25 Mbps download speed (wired)
Some companies will even want you to have a wired internet connection called an ethernet connection. The ethernet connection allows for an even faster transfer of data from the internet.
You can do an internet speed test here.
How Can I Get a Wired Internet Connection?
A wired internet connection can actually improve its ping, speed and stability. There are two ways to get a wired internet connection:
Option 1: buy an ethernet cable.
An ethernet cable connects the router to your computer device. This is not ideal if your router is fixed to a location very far from your laptop. Nobody wants loose cables!
There are ways of hiding this cable; for example, you may be able to clip it along the wall or put it under the carpet.
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Option 2: Ethernet over powerline adapters
Another way to get wired internet access is by using a powerline adaptor. While not a perfect substitute for an ethernet cable, it is still a faster option than a wireless connection.
Plug one powerline adapter into an electrical socket near your router and connect it to your router using an ethernet cable.
Then, add another powerline adapter to an electrical socket near your computer and connect it to the computer using an ethernet cable.
Make sure you do this with a socket and not a power strip, as a power strip can cause problems.
We recommend the TP-Link Powerline Adapter.
Still have wifi issues?
There are still some things you can do to improve your wifi connection.
- Contact your internet provider to see if they can increase the speed limit
- Have a backup connection, such as a personal hotspot, that you can use if your main connection is not working
- Update your devices or try a different device for the online classes if they are running to slow
- Find out if you are with the best wifi provider in your area
- Turn off your camera in the online classes to reduce bandwidth
- Use a teaching platform that works in low-bandwidth environments, like Zoom
You also have access to free wifi spots anywhere in the world where you may be able to get some general admin work done. Public places such as cafes may be too noisy for lessons.
3. A Headset
For a headset, you’ll need to get one that fits comfortably on the ears and has a microphone.
I have a Battlebuds headset. I honestly swear by these and will never go back to regular headphones again.
Battlebud earphones are suitable for teaching online because they are so comfortable, and you almost feel like you don’t have them in your ears. The microphone works great, so long as it’s not too close to your mouth.
You may also be interested in: The Best English Teaching Companies in 2022.
However, you have to be very careful using earphones like these, as some companies will not accept certain kinds of earphones because they have a 3 5mm audio connector. You could try and give them back if your company doesn’t accept them.
Another option is to consider getting earphones that fit comfortably over the ears, such as these headsets. They are recommended by online companies such as iTutorgroup.
Whatever headset you choose, make sure it has a microphone attached and noise-canceling properties.
4. Mouse and Keypad
A wireless or wired mouse will help you perform functions faster and draw in the online classroom. You may want to buy a keypad separately or continue using the one on your laptop.
A laptop stand might help angle your laptop better. This can help keep you level with the camera, and improve your posture. If you decide to use one of these, you might like to buy a keypad separately to avoid stretching.
5. HD webcam
An HD webcam is also a necessity when teaching online.
If the webcam on your laptop is only 720px in quality, you might need to invest in an external HD webcam that you can plug into your computer.
This enables your student to see you clearly without any blurry or pixelated video quality. It is more true to life and professional, enhancing your relationships with their students as they feel better connected to you onscreen.
Webcams can also change contrast, brightness, and other color settings depending on your home lighting, so they can help you look your best. Some even have shutters that close your webcam when you are not using it.
Consider investing in an HD webcam for your future online classes.
You can find a list of our recommended HD webcams here.
6. Multi-Camera Software
This is not a necessity but something worth considering as an online teacher. If you want to give students a great learning experience, consider using camera software like Manycam.
Manycam allows you to create virtual backgrounds, share live digital props, and more. It’s particularly suited to ESL lessons with children.
Check my Manycam review and see how I use it in the online classroom.
That covers the necessary technical requirements for teaching online. It’s best to get this right before you start teaching to improve your online experience.
Any other tech recommendations for online teaching? Leave a comment below!
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.