LED lamps can illuminate your online classroom in more ways than one
Best LED Lamps for Online ESL Teachers
Having the right lighting as an online teacher is important. Especially, if you are using a green screen. You want to create a bright and inviting environment for your students and teaching from a dull room or one that is yellow tinted from fluorescent lights isn’t going to achieve that
The solution is to improve the lighting both in your room and around your workstation. There are a few ways to do this, but the one we are going to talk about today is LED lamps.
Using LED lamps, you can completely eliminate shadows from your background or green screen and create that warm and inviting environment you want for your students. The best part, they are generally cheap and don’t take up a lot of space.
So, let’s take a look at the best LED lamps for online teachers as well as a few other tips for improving the lighting around your online workstation.
Why You Need Good Lighting
This one is pretty obvious. Your students should be able to clearly see you. But, there is more to it than that.
As I mentioned in the intro you want an environment that is warm and inviting to your students. This will allow them to feel comfortable around you and more easily focus on the lesson.
What does lighting have to do with this? Well, think about a time you spoke to someone on video chat who was in a dark place. They probably weren’t easy to see and you may have even felt a little uncomfortable talking to them depending on who they were.
I remember times when I’ve been speaking to someone while outside. The only light around me happened to be streetlights which cast a yellowish glow. The effect could be a bit creepy and unsettling. Especially to a young child.
These are both extreme examples. Even if your room is dark it isn’t going to be so dark your students can’t see you. More likely, your problem will be that you have shadows over parts of your face or that you are getting a yellowish tint form the rooms lighting. Both of these can still contribute to a poor atmosphere though.
You want to get rid of these problems so that you have a clear image being projected into your camera and the lighting looks natural. As if you were in a regular classroom with your students speaking to them face-to-face.
Tips for Improving Your Lighting
Now that you understand the importance of having good lighting and what our end goal is, let’s look at some tips for accomplishing this.
LED lamps are one of the best ways to take care of this problem. That’s what we’re here to talk about. But, there are a few other things that you can do to help improve the lighting in your room and around your workspace.
One of the first things you should consider is where you are teaching. How is the natural lighting? For many teachers, this may not be a major factor as they are doing most of their teaching in the early morning hours. But, if you teach during the day time hours, natural light can be one of the best ways to improve the atmosphere in your class.
If possible, move your workstation to a room that has windows. It is best if the windows face a direction where they will receive plenty of light during the hours you teach.
This isn’t going to be a solution for all teachers, so let’s look at the next thing you can do. Go to the room that you usually tech in. Now, turn the lights on. Is there a yellowish tint to the room? If so, it’s time to change out the light bulbs
Older incandescent light bulbs tend to throw off a yellowish colored light. The problem with this is that it can cause your room to look dull. This shows when you are teaching and gives your face and background the same yellowish tint.
What’s the best way to fix this? Replace the bulbs in your light fixtures with LED light bulbs. This will brighten the room up and make the lighting seem more natural. It also can help to save you a bit of money on your electric bill every year.
Before we even get into which LED lamps are the best for online teachers, try the above two things first. These will greatly improve the lighting around your workstation and create a more inviting environment for your students to learn in.
This won’t fix everything though. You’ve got better lighting in your room but this isn’t going to completely get rid of shadows that can cover your background. This is especially a problem when you are using a green screen.
This is where you will need some LED lamps. Changing out the bulbs and improving the natural lighting is going to help to brighten the room overall, but it isn’t going to get rid of the shadows that your body casts on the background or green screen or the shadows from when you move your hands.
So, let’s move on to the best LED lamps that you can use to completely illuminate your background or green screen and create a more inviting environment for your students.
The 4 Best LED Lamps for Online Teachers
It might seem like overkill but LED shop lights are a great solution for lighting. The best way to use these is to have one on either side of you pointing towards your green screen or background. This will completely eliminate any shadows that might be causing your green screen to distort or that may cause distractions for your students. We’ve used these when teaching classes and can attest that they are a great solution for lighting issues. You don’t hang them, though. Instead, it is best to stand them upright.
- LED shop lights do a great job of creating the natural looking kind of light you want. They don’t throw off the yellow tint that plagues incandescent lights.
- Because these are LED, they are going to be cheaper both for the lights and when the electric bill comes.
- LED bulbs typically last longer than both fluorescent and incandescent lights. Not only are you saving money on the light bills but also in not having to buy bulbs.
- Because these lights are quite bright they may be overkill. If you are teaching in a smaller space these may be too bright. These types of lights are better if you have a larger space and can put them at least 1.2m (4ft) away from where you are teaching.
- These lights are quite large. You won’t be able to travel with these lights. If you plan on traveling frequently you are going to have to find a smaller and more portable set of lights.
- You are going to have a lot of cords to contend with as you will most likely need two extension cords running to both of the lights. This can create a bit of clutter which you wouldn’t have with battery powered LED lights.
If you are able to mount screws into your wall then this is a great option for an overhead light. You can use this to hang above your green screen or background. This will help to get rid of any shadows which your body may be casting. You can also change the settings on this light to adjust the brightness level depending on the darkness of the room.
- You can adjust the brightness and color of the light. This will allow you to change the settings depending on how bright the room is and avoid any glare from the light being too bright.
- This light is smaller and will take up much less space than the LED shop lights. You can keep your workspace more organized.
- The lamp has a memory function which will remember the last setting the lamp was on. This can help you save time when getting ready for classes.
- You have to screw this lamp into the wall. This means it isn’t a good option for portability or if you screw holes in your walls.
- Depending on how dark the environment you are teaching in is this light may not be enough. It is a good option for people who need a medium amount of light to eliminate any shadows behind them.
- A few users have complained that their light flickered when it was moved. This seems to be isolated.
What if you’ve got a bright room and don’t need a lot of extra light? Perhaps you need just enough to eliminate a few shadows and provide some more natural lighting. This is a good option for you. This is a clip on LED light which has two lamps, allowing you to focus one on either side of you so that you can add some extra lighting to your green screen. As with other LED lights, these have an advantage over incandescent bulbs because they use less energy and last longer.
- Because this is a clip on LED light, it is portable and can be used anywhere you travel that has a table or desk. So, you can take your green screen or background with you and have a fully portable workstation.
- As an added benefit to people using this when they travel, there are 3 different lighting settings and 5 levels of dimming. You can adjust this to the different lighting conditions so you don’t have too much or too little light.
- The lamp is USB powered so you can connect it to your laptop and not have to worry about excess cords. You can also use this in the event your power goes out by connecting it to a power bank. Combine this with a portable hotspot and you have a workstation that can be operated for one or two classes in the event of power outages.
- This isn’t a super bright lamp. If you need a lot of extra light then this is probably not the best option for you. Instead, you should take a look at the LED shop lights discussed above.
- A few users complained that the lamp began to droop after a few months of use due to the weight of the lights. This was a small number of users in comparison to the number who have rated this product highly. So, it is possible these users received a bad product or were doing something which caused this.
- Some users have complained that the padding in the clip is not very good. This has led to chipping on their desk from where the clip attaches. A recommended work around for this is to put down cloth between the padding and the surface you plan to clamp this to.
Which do we recommend?
We like the Sunco LED Shop Light. This light has helped us to successfully teach hundreds of classes using just a green screen and ManyCam. Using two to light up either side completely eliminates shadows and, since we put them far enough from us, doesn’t cause a glare.
The caveat to this is that we have plenty of room when teaching. As mentioned in the pros and cons, if you do not have the space this isn’t going to be the best option as the light will be too much. In this case, we highly recommend that you replace the bulbs in the room with a 75 watt LED bulb and go with one of the other two LED lamps on our list.
Remember that lighting is important for creating the right atmosphere for your classroom. Natural lighting can help to make your students more comfortable and will eliminate any distractions that too much or too little lighting can cause. This means students will be more focused, parents will be happier, your company will be happier, and everybody wins.