Online ESL teachers must first be sure that the quality of their hardware is up to par. In my previous article entitled ESL Online Teaching with Qkids, I researched possible options for the best online teaching company. I finally decided to go with Qkids. If you think this might be a side job that interests you, follow this link to apply . This task would be easy peezy. I was of the mindset that I could apply with my computer of choice. I would interview. Then I would be signing my acceptance letter in no time, right? I was actually wrong with this type of thinking. However, with proper preparation, you are sure to succeed. Stay the course. Trust the process. Today I will discuss the bare necessities for online teaching equipment to ensure that you wow your hiring audience.
Can Your Online Audience See You?
The first misconception for me was that my audience could see me perfectly. I thought natural light from a window, overhead lights, and the dot of light from my laptop would suffice. After days of research, I quickly realized that my audience could barely see me in such a dim setting. An integral part of success for teachers and students is that they can see your gestures and enunciation of words. The company may hesitate to hire you and efforts will all be in vain due to a less-than-desired lighting set-up. I had no idea where to even begin looking for a good lighting system online teaching equipment. However, I remembered all the picture sessions I experienced as a kid in the 80s. The lighting with umbrellas always did the trick during those times. I thought, maybe, just maybe, that would do the trick for me too. Below is what I came up with:
This set of two does the trick in a poorly illuminated room. I turn these on with my room lights, and it has done wonders for my lighting. The lights come with a tripod stand and three points of adjustment for just the right height and angle. The umbrellas do a great job of providing soft white light without the glare. The biggest positive for me with the lighting system is that it was good quality at a great price point for a newbie like myself. Click on the image above to view even more specs.
Teach with a Crystal Clear Online Webcam
Another aspect that I took for granted was thinking that my laptop’s webcam was providing a quality viewing experience. I had never done any online videos in the past nor did I really think that it mattered to the viewers. However, once my requirement was online teaching, my mindset quickly changed, and I could see the difference. Many times the video seemed grainy and I looked more like a blob than an online teacher. Again, I decided to take the plunge and see what viable, budget-friendly options were available. This is what I decided to go with for the money:
Again, I am not tech savvy, so I was wanting a camera that would not break the bank, but would fulfill the requirements to get the job done. I wanted something with great video quality and a great microphone, just in case I were to have technical difficulties with my primary microphone. This camera has never let me down in regard to this. It has HD 1080p video quality and the microphone picks up my voice while no so much of the background noise. Click on the image above to view even more specs.
Get a Headset You Won’t Regret
The factory microphone and computer speakers will work just fine, right?
I can use the earbuds that I got with my cellphone and just speak into the computer speaker, right?
During the online teaching application process, I tried to get by with both of these approaches. My online teaching equipment was not up to par. What happened was my audience was hearing a terrible echo. Imagine if you are an English language learner attempting to deal with your teacher’s echo issue? It would be frustrating to say the least. By this time, the thought that entered my mind was “OMG, I have to sink more money into this!” But then I had an epiphany…if I was going to commit to this, I needed to do it the right way. I was going to invest in myself. If I wanted this to be a legitimate extra source of income, I needed to take it seriously and hold myself accountable. I started shopping once again, and this was budget option I found:
My wife ordered this headset when she applied for her online ESL job and was hired. I figured if it worked for her then it would work for me. The noise cancelling effect of this headset has been wonderful for me. There is no more background noise drowning out what the students need to hear. This product also has a control so that the volume can be adjusted or muted quickly. I have had great luck with this headset and no complaint from parents or Qkids, so that makes it a winner for me. Click on the image above to view even more specs.
You Need a Mouse in the House
When I come home from work, all we have are laptops that have touch pads. Little did I know a mouse plays an integral part in online teaching. Let me explain. Due to the interactive nature of online ESL teaching, teachers need a mouse to spell words, highlight pertinent information, and mark or circle points of emphasis or mistakes. It is SO MUCH HARDER doing that with a built-in touch pad on a laptop. Take a look at the pic below for further details.
Don’t Be Short on Your USB Port
Now that I had bought all of my online teaching equipment, I had one small problem. I did not have enough USB ports on my computer to make all the equipment work. D’OH! Well I turned to my research once again to find a simple fix that has worked so well for me. I never knew they made such a thing until I found myself in this pinch. Take a look:
Connect with Ethernet and You are Set
Anything legit and worth doing will take work. I kept telling myself this. A minor bump in the road would not deter me from taking action to gain traction. I had to have a wired connection to provide optimal internet speeds. The handy dandy wi-fi would just not work. There were too many uncertainties with using wireless connection. Qkids requires a download speed of 4Mbps and an upload speed of 2Mbps. My computer did not have a port for Ethernet. This tiny piece of online teaching equipment was so helpful in solving yet another problem for me:
In conclusion, I share my online teaching equipment purchases with you to provide you a bare necessities guide to the most affordable options and a fair price point. Are there better equipment options out there? Of course. Will they cost you more? Probably. I only recommend these because in the 5 months of my online teaching experience these various pieces of equipment have never let me down, and I certainly hope you can find some value here as well. If you decide you want to apply, feel free to visit this link.