My online teaching setup

January 24, 2021 James L

Recommendations for students and tutors making the switch to online lessons.

I’ve been tutoring online for a few years now but the pandemic pushed everything online in March and I was expecting a catastrophe. Instead, my students were incredible, it just worked.

If you’re going to make online teaching a success this is what I recommend.

(I teach one-to-one, much of this should be true for group lessons but I don’t know.)

for students

  1. Your home has just become your school, have a devoted space for online lessons, a place that doesn’t need to be completely tidied away. I don’t recommend the kitchen table.
  2. Charge your devices
  3. Charge your devices again.
  4. Have chargers for all your devices in the room. plugged in.
  5. Two screens are better than one! One for work and one for video conferencing. Jumping between Skype/Zoom and another app is remarkably disruptive when you have to do it dozens of times in an hour. Also it breaks the flow of conversation.
  6. useful kit
    • spare chargers, one for your room, one for your class room.
    • phone / tablet stand so I can see you
    • usual school kit
      • exercise books
      • A4 paper
      • many pens (I know this is boring but your home is a school now.)
  7. Improve your WiFi Here’s a great guide. Summing up:
    • Upgrade your internet connection if possible.
    • If you’re in big flat consider upgrading your router.
    • If you’re in a big house consider a WiFi mesh kit.
  8. Are you doing science practicals? You’ll need an extra space for this.
  9. See this page for science kit.

for tutors

  1. All of the above.
  2. a downwards-phone-holding-stand-thing Use your phone as a separate participant on the Zoom/Skype call and have it pointing at your hands. This has made online teaching so much easier!
  3. An online whiteboard - I prefer Miro But, I find these next to useless without an Apple pencil / stylus. Also beware that most of your students will not have a stylus and so cannot scribble along with you. Drawing with a trackpad is hell! The phone holder above is better I find.
  4. 3 screens!
    • An iPad for Zoom. The iPad has a better camera than the lousy one in my MacBook Air, also Zoom has a poor security record, I feel happier keeping it on a locked-down device like an iPad.
    • A laptop for general work while teaching.
    • My 3rd screen is my downward-facing phone so my students can see what I’m writing.


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