Here are a few items that I’ve acquired over the past year that I think has improved my online teaching provision. Many of the items I recommend below have similar rival products, and I have recommended only items that I have used myself, and still use on a daily basis. I mostly tutor using a MacBook Air, but I do sometimes tutor on my Ipad if I find myself out and about and a student wants a quick tutorial. In all these instances I use Zoom/Skype/Facetime to run the call but I almost exclusively use Bitpaper as my online whiteboard, as it is so intuitive to use and has a clean presentation.
Bitpaper is free to use and feels like you are using a paid service – the attention to details is great! Keep reading right to the end of this post and I will end up with one more free tool that is invaluable for online tutors and tutoring.
Wacom Intuos Graphic Tablet
Graphic Tablets are great for use with online whiteboards – allowing tutor and tutee to communicate with hand drawn and written diagrams on a shared whiteboard. The Wacom Tablet is my favourite as it offers a smooth surface and has a large enough surface not to be writing in a cramped space. I have also used the Huion Graphic Tablet, which for about half the price of the Wacom you get a good tablet, but with half the surface space of the Wacom.
XP-PEN G640 Drawing Tablet
The Wacom tablet from above now seems to be discontinued and the price keeps getting higher and higher. A good alternative option that I have road-tested with my Mac and PC, and comes in at under £40 is the XP-PEN G640 6×4 inch Drawing Tablet.
Ciscle Disc Stylus
If you use a tablet to tutor on, you’ll know that fingers aren’t the best implement to draw with. I have gone through several variations of styluses for my Ipad and I have recently discovered this one for only £10. This stylus allows you to draw very precise and accurate diagrams, and I have started shipping them out to all my students who have Ipad or Android tablets.
I’ve been fortunate to have learnt a lot about coding and HTML coding in particular through my degree, which is why I use WordPress for my website. Recently I’ve had many requests on how to set-up a website for a tutoring business, and I have stopped recommending WordPress as I have found that the pure simplicity of setting up a Wix account means that you can get up and running with your website with minimal fuss. It’s definitely worth having a look:
This is my find of the year! The multi button mouse: I’ve managed to set up my extra mouse buttons to complete many of the keyboard shortcuts that I previously used. I have a button for taking screen-shots, another for pasting images, and a myriad of other buttons for changing tools on Bitpaper. I feel like an online tutor ninja using this mouse.
Ergonomic Laptop Stand
Being used to travelling to all my students I was surprised how much my body would miss the hidden exercise. Since moving to online I am walking a lot less than I used to – and am a lot less active, I invested in this laptop stand to give me the option of tutoring at a standing desk – I am already reaping the benefits!
This document camera was a Chritmas gift to myself – I have heard a lot of good things about this camera, and I am looking forward to seeing how I can incorporate it further into my online lesson. One of my students already has this camera – and I can monitor his work in real-time as he works on paper.
Working on a 13″ laptop screen is not ideal over a long period of time – so I am grateful for the extra desktop space an external monitor can offer. You might need an HDMI or VGA adapter if you have a MacBook like I do.
Or otherwise, if you have an ipad you can connect your ipad to your laptop for as little as £19.99 – seamlessly connect your Ipad as a 2nd monitor and also use it as a graphics tablet: Duet Display
I use this when I am tutoring away from home in hotels or when staying with family.
I love this headset – nice clear sound both ways, and is a must have in any noisy environment.
Bonus tool: A Straw!
You can pick up drinking straws for free from any coffee / fast-food establishment. If you find that your voice is getting tired from over-use, make sure you check out your posture – this is usually the number 1 issue with vocal tiredness from online tutoring. If your posture is great and you are still finding that your voice is getting tired – then watch this video below from the eminent voice researcher Ingo Titze to see how the straw can help you rejuvenate that tired voice.