Setting up your workspace with the right online teaching equipment
You want to succeed as an online teacher. Having the right equipment and the optimal setup can make that much easier.
If you’ve been teaching for any length of time or even if you’ve just started teaching, you know that companies place a great deal of importance on the equipment you use as a teacher.
Go to any company’s website and you’ll a whole list of requirements about computer specs, Internet speed, type of headset to use, and even some expectations of how your workspace should appear to the students, such as adequate lighting and appropriate decorum. We’ll take a look at some things you can do to optimize your workspace with the best online teaching equipment.
Where to set up your working space
Before you even begin getting the equipment or thinking about how you can optimize your online teaching work space, you need to figure out where you will be teaching from. This is going to differ, obviously, from one person to another, based on their unique situation.
For example, if you live in a small studio apartment, your work space will be limited, so you’ll likely be working in a common area of your apartment. On the other hand, if you live in a house which has an extra bedroom or home office, you could use this space for online teaching and thus maintain separate personal and work areas.
How much dedicated space you have for online teaching, as well as the atmosphere of that space, are going to largely impact what equipment you’ll want to consider investing in. Here are some factors to consider beforehand:
- The space needs to be quiet
- You need to have enough room to move around
- The area needs to be well lit
- You need a source of power
- Preferably, a way to create a wired internet connection
While some of these will be easy fixes, such as buying lights to brighten the area or purchasing longer power or Ethernet cables, others may not be so easy to resolve, such as background noise and distractions, or how much space you have to decorate your work area for optimal online teaching.
Make sure you are choosing your teaching space wisely. Obviously, the larger the area you have to dedicate to equipment, the more options you will have when getting equipment and optimizing your space.
But, if you just can’t dedicate a lot of space to this, there are still things you can do to get creative.
So, now that you’ve figured out where you are going to be setting up your workstation, let’s take a look into what you will need.
What online teaching equipment do you need?
There are a few main things which you have to have no matter what. There are also a number of extras which will make teaching much easier and more fun for both you and the students.
We’re going to break these two things up and take a very brief look into how you should go about choosing each item.
First, things you absolutely need:
- Computer (obviously)
- Background (either greenscreen or self-made)
These are the three most important things. But, there are also a number of extras that can be helpful including:
- Standing desk
- Portable router
- Extra lighting
Computer– this one is quite obvious. If you don’t have a computer you won’t be able to teach online. We’ve got an article that goes into choosing the best computer for you. As far as your workspace goes though, you will need to decide whether you want a laptop or a desktop.
If you have a large space for teaching and won’t be traveling a lot then it may be worthwhile getting a desktop computer. This will be faster than a laptop and you can easily upgrade and swap out parts as needed. If you don’t have much space though a laptop will be the way to go.
Headset– again, we have an article looking at the best headsets for teachers. As far as your workspace goes, you will want to think about any noise that will need to be blocked out. If your teaching space is affected by things such as noise from traffic or animals outside, you want to select something that has quality noise-canceling features.
Background– the background you choose will depend on your company. Some companies will allow you to create your background as you choose. Others will ask that you display their company logo behind you or a specific plain color. Either way, there are two routes you can go with the background. A green screen or a self-made background.
A green screen will provide you with the most options in terms of changing up your background when you want something new. You can easily go from a colorful and cartoonish background for a young kids class to something more subdued and appropriate for older teens.
A green screen will take up a bit of room so this isn’t the best solution if you are in an extremely tiny space. Also, you need a lot of light to make sure a green screen will work properly. If you can’t get the right amount of lighting your screen will look strange and you will have major problems.
If you don’t have much space or can’t get the right level of lighting for whatever reason, you may want to make your own background. You can do this any number of ways. Many people like to hang up stickers and encouraging words. If you work for a company that wants their logo up you can have it printed on vinyl and hang it. The options are almost endless.
Standing Desk– this one is optional but can be a great addition to your teaching workspace. A standing desk will allow you to ditch the chair and get on your feet. Not only is this good for your body, as you will be moving around more, but it can also make teaching more fun.
If you have a small space a standing desk may not be the best option as you won’t have as much room to move around. But, if you’ve got plenty of room, this can be a great addition to your online teaching equipment.
Props– the more space you have the more creative you can get when it comes to props. Most people simply choose stuffed animals, crazy glasses, noisemakers, and other things that help to keep students’ attention.
You may think about keeping a tub of props next to your desk ready to go when needed. A simple plastic container should do the trick and will allow you to keep a large number of props at your disposal.
Portable Router– we discuss this in another article but you might think about keeping a portable router on your desk for those times when the internet goes out. This is something you can easily do regardless of the size of your workspace. A portable router is no larger than the size of a cell phone and can save you from having to cancel classes if you have tech issues.
Extra Lighting- this is something to consider if you are in a room that doesn’t have natural lighting. You want to get LED lights as these won’t generate nearly as much heat as a fluorescent light. Especially, if you are opting to use a green screen in your class, you need good lighting to make sure the entire green screen is lit and there are no shadows that might cause problems.
How to optimize your space
Now that you know which room you will use and what online teaching equipment you need, it’s time to optimize your space.
To start out with, if you find that your space is a bit noisy you can use sound-absorbing materials to help dampen some of the noise. There are a variety of materials that you can use but some options you can consider include sound-absorbing drapes to cover windows and sound-absorbing foam panels to line walls. These should be able to dampen the sound enough to where it won’t affect your classes.
If you need more lighting, look into LED lights that are at least 500 lumens. Make sure to replace any fluorescent bulbs with LED lights in the room. You will need at least two lights on either side of you. Another light hanging above is perfect if you are able to set one up. If not, just make sure your face and body are lit well, but not too much.
Depending on the size of the space you are teaching from, if you decide to go the green screen route, you can get a frame to hang the screen from. This will help to get rid of any folds as you can easily hang the screen. It will also allow you to easily hang a light from the frame above your head to get rid of any shadows on the screen.
As mentioned above, think about getting a standing desk. This will allow you a greater range of motion which will come across when you are teaching classes. Both your students and you will appreciate the ability to move around as classes will be more than you just sitting in one place and talking.
Should you decide to go with a traditional sitting desk, make sure that you are able to put your computer so that the camera’s eye level with you. You don’t want to be looking down into the camera or looking up into it. The best option is to have it eye level with you so that your students are seeing you perfectly centered and facing them.
If you can, make sure that you are using a wired internet connection. For this reason, it is best if you can set up your workstation in the same room where you keep your router. This will create a more stable longterm connection.
Wrapping it up
Remember that how you set up your workstation can help you greatly when it comes to classes. Creating an optimal work environment can make it easier for you to deliver your classes and can help students by having a distraction-free area.
It’s not just about picking the right room to teach in though. You want to get the right online teaching equipment, have the right area for teaching, and make sure everything is set up and optimized properly. If you do this, you should be well on your way to delivering awesome online classes.