Why Using an External Webcam Beats Built-in Webcams Hands Down
In the early days of modern computers (circa 1990), webcams were non-existent on computers altogether. In fact, the first commercial webcam didn’t enter the marketplace until 1994, was black-and-white, and was designed for the Apple Macintosh by a U.S. company called Connectix. Today, every laptop computer comes with a built-in webcam, and it’s pretty much a given that everyone uses the webcam on their laptops for everything from videoconferencing to live video streaming. As an online teacher, it’s one of the most important pieces of hardware in your computer.
Laptops are excellent portable devices, and a must for any traveling online teacher. For most online teachers though, we recommend using a desktop computer because desktops are much more affordable, customizable, and upgradeable. Plus, if something breaks or stops working in your desktop computer, there’s a good chance you can get it repaired or replaced without breaking the bank. Not so with laptops.
Online teachers who opt for a desktop computer need little convincing that they need to buy an external webcam. It’s just one of the hardware components they’ll have on their shopping list when buying a desktop. Laptop users though? Different story. There’s this built-in webcam usually placed right above the display. Usually, built-in webcams aren’t that good. But they get the job done.
Now, if anyone tries to convince you that your built-in webcam isn’t good enough for teaching online, don’t worry – it probably is. You will get by just fine with the built-in webcam in your laptop computer.
So then why get an external webcam? There are more reasons that you might think. Here’s why:
You Can Get Higher Video Quality
OK. This one is … obvious. But, many online teachers want better video quality when they teach. Using decent external webcam to teach online means both you and your students will notice the difference: clearer, brighter video with higher definition, and thus more detail. A higher quality webcam also helps significantly with common lighting issues online teachers deal with when using a built-in webcam. Since good external webcams will make you appear brighter on screen, your lighting woes teaching with a built-in webcam will diminish – or even better – disappear. Begone lighting woes!
Bottom Line: Do you want to look and feel better on screen? If yes, an external webcam will give you that.
You Can Get More Versatile
One of the biggest bonuses of using an external webcam is that you can place it almost anywhere. Unlike built-in webcams, external webcams are not constrained. You can clip them at the top of your screen, place them on a table, or attach them to a tripod and get even more versatility. Whether you stand or sit while teaching, you’ll be able to position your webcam to match your height. That means you can get your webcam set up in the right position for your workspace, without having to slide and turn your computer. Not to mention, if you want to show your online students something on the other side of the room, all you need to do is turn the webcam around. Now, isn’t that funky?
Bottom Line: With an external webcam for teaching online, you’re the boss, not your laptop. The sky is the limit.
You Can Improve Eye-Contact with Your Online Students
One of the common challenges online teachers have when they teach online lessons is that they tend to look at themselves on the screen rather than at their built-in webcam. That’s because your built-in webcam is most likely smack in the top center above your laptop screen.
Thanks to the versatility external webcams offer, you can place the webcam where your students are on screen, and voilà, you have eye contact. Yes, you can train yourself to look at your laptop’s built-in webcam and ignore your students – one way or another, you’re not looking at them.
Bottom Line: Want to improve eye-contact with your students (and get higher ratings as an online teacher)? This one is a no-brainer.
You Can Look Up Instead of Looking Down at Your Webcam
Neck, back, and eye strain are no laughing matter. Laptop computers give us portability, but that portability usually comes at the cost of ergonomics. Most people, when using their laptops, have to look down at the webcam, which means if you’re using a built-in webcam, you slouch when you teach online. This is because the webcam is perfectly positioned – to peer up your nose.
Bottom Line: Slouch no more. External webcams have got your back. Place the webcam at your eye-level and take back control of your posture. Things are looking up, finally, and so are you. Look up at your external webcam (and hide that double chin).
You Can Use Your More of Your Work Space (Or Use Your Work Space More Effectively)
External webcams typically capture a wider range than built-in webcams, so that means you have more space to introduce props and other teaching aids, do more exciting things with a green screen, and even move around your workspace, especially if you stand while teaching online.
Bottom Line: Why not do more with the same space? An external webcam can help you maximize your space for teaching online, and get you doing more physical activities.
Seeing is Believing
A picture is worth a thousand words, so it’s reasonable to say a video is worth more. Thanks to Producer/Director Scott Silva for sharing this awesome video, comparing the difference between a built-in webcam and an external webcam. Have a look for yourself:
As you can see, the difference in video quality between Scott’s built-in webcam and external webcam are remarkable.
Best Affordable Webcams for Teaching Online (All Under $100)
High-end webcams can get as expensive as $200 – $300. This isn’t a reasonable amount to spend if you’re buying a webcam specifically for teaching online. Each of these affordable webcams for online teaching fit comfortably under $100 and have excellent video quality and functionality at these low prices.
Our Pick of the Best Affordable Webcams for Online Teachers
This 1080p webcam is a cool $55, offering automatic light correction and auto adjustments for color and brightness for natural lighting. It can be placed on your desk, attached to a tripod, or clipped onto your laptop or desktop monitor.
With a 110 degree video capture, you’ll be able to use this baby to stream and record wide angle video while teaching online.
Just plug and play this webcam. No additional software or drivers needed.
Also priced at $55, this 1080p has a flexible rotational clip allowing it to be easily adjusted wherever you place it. It also automatically adjusts to your room’s light conditions so you remain clearly visible on camera even in dim environments.
This webcam captures a video angle of 90 degrees, so it doesn’t provide as much of a wide angle video recording ability as other webcams in our list. However, it does come with a tripod, a privacy shutter, and yes – an instruction manual. Did we mention it also comes with a lifetime warranty? According to the manufacturer, contact them if you face any technical issues and they’ll replace or refund this plug and play webcam.
This affordable webcam is a decent choice for teaching online, with a price tag of $60 on Amazon. This is a 1080p full HD webcam with automatic light correction and auto-adjusts color and brightness for natural lighting. It can capture video at an angle of 110 degrees, allowing you to maximize use of your space on camera
This is a plug and play device, with no additional software required. It includes a rotational clip which can attach to a tripod, clip onto your computer, or be placed on flat surfaces such as your desk.
This webcam has a slightly higher price tag, but is still priced at under $70. This is a full HD 1080p webcam with automatic low light correction. It can capture video at an angle of 90 degrees, and it can be fitted onto a tripod for 360 degree rotation.
A word of warning: this video also has a facial enhancement feature designed to beautify your appearance on camera. Also, it does not seem to have an auto-zoom feature, so this webcam is best-suited for those looking for improved video quality while teaching online and not moving the webcam around much.
The most expensive of webcams among our picks for under $100, this webcam is an excellent choice for the more discerning online teacher who wants a serious upgrade in video quality without paying a hefty price.
Offering up Full 1080p HD video recording and streaming in 16:9 widescreen, this 12 megapixel webcam will help you raise your online teaching video quality up several notches.
Equipped with a flexible and bendable clip, this plug and play webcam can be placed on your computer display or desktop, or any other flat surface
Level Up Your Online Teaching with an Affordable Webcam
Each individual is going to have a specific budget, room ambiance, and a unique computer and lighting setup, but if we had to choose one of these, our pick would be the Ausdom AW615 due to its superior video quality, although it comes at a higher price than other webcams in our list.
Notice we haven’t included webcams from big brand names like Logitech or Microsoft. The reason for this is that while they offer excellent, higher-end webcams, their webcams also cost significantly more. As an online teacher, your goal is not the same as video bloggers and others who live stream and need a high-end webcam. For most online teachers, the goal is to improve on video quality offered by built-in webcams without breaking the bank. Our recommended webcams for online teachers accomplish that for under $100. Heck, all of these are under $80.
Another thing to consider is that while webcams and video recording quality has come a long way, the changes from one year to the next are not significant, and most likely won’t make much of a difference to you as an online teacher using an external webcam. What this means is you don’t have to buy the latest and greatest webcam to achieve great results. You can buy a slightly older webcam model, pay less, and still get the improved quality an external webcam offers over your computer’s built-in webcam.
Our goal is to keep things affordable for online teachers, so you can focus on improving your delivery as well as book more lessons and earn more money as an online teacher.