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 (Amazon.com🇺🇸) 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 (Amazon.com🇺🇸), 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 (Amazon.com🇺🇸).
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 (Amazon.com🇺🇸).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.
[Update, the apple pencil is a much superior alternative now to this pen if you have an Ipad 6 or newer (Amazon.com🇺🇸).
Books on Audible
My favourite way to learn more these days is to listen to audiobooks, I love audible and without doubt the best one I’ve listened to recently is Graham Allcott’s “How to be a productivity Ninja!, Worry Less, Achieve more and Love what you Do!” (Amazon.com🇺🇸) the title sounds a little gimmicky- but it is the TOTAL opposite, some really good honest advice with easy tasks to tackle. He also gets into the psychology of it all… and I feel a lot of what he has to say resonates with us tutors.
There is a 30-day free trial to audible, where you get 2 free books (Audible UK) or 3 free books (Audible US) which you get to keep even aftes the subscription runs out- I got the Harry Potter book as my 2nd!
This is my find of the year! The multi button mouse, (Amazon.com🇺🇸): 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 (Amazon.com🇺🇸) to give me the option of tutoring at a standing desk – I am already reaping the benefits!
This document camera (Amazon.com🇺🇸) 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.
[Edit: I have been super impressed with what I’ve seen of the Ipevo document camera– I’m currently saving up for my own (Amazon.com🇺🇸)
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 (Amazon.com🇺🇸) 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 (Amazon.com🇺🇸)- 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.
Hi, I have an iPad Air 1 and I need to do online tutoring. I was wondering if it is better to go with one good stylus or buy a Wacom tablet? I have done some research but still, have my doubts. Would really appreciate your help
Sorry for the delay… if you are tutoring you’ll be writing a lot every day – I would recommend getting a proper graphics tablet for that purpose.
Hi, thanks for this. Do you know if you can use the graphic tablet with the whiteboard provided by Zoom? Or on skype? Thanks
Hi, Yes- if you have a computer with a USB port then you can, I use it with both software!
Hi, great article!
When using your graphic tablet and bitpaper, do you screenshare on zoom to show what you’re doing on bitpaper? Or does bitpaper act as a replacement for zoom?
I’ve just noticed it looks like it’s not free anymore which is a shame! Do you use zoom more now?
There is a free version, but it is very limited. It’s still incredibly reasonable for the price. I use a mix of all calling software.
Hi thanks for the post, do you find that the Wacom is slow using bitpaper and skype? Mine is fine until I start using skype it seems…
You should have a look at your RAM if that’s the case. I used to have a similar issue when I ran a very old macbook pro. Once I upgraded the RAM to 8GB no problem at all!
I’m using a XP-PEN Deco 01 https://www.xp-pen.com/product/84.html graphics tablet with Zoom Whiteboard + Onenote doesn’t have any issues.
online whiteboards worked well for me – but the stylus/writing tablet was key! Get the XP-Pen Star G640 tablet . I t’s perfect for your needs and less expensive. Since you won’t be using it for digital art, you are paying for features that you won’t use or need.
They have several lines, Star, for instance, that might be smaller and less expensive, yet work just as well.
Thank you very much for your important information. When writing on the Bitpaper whiteboard app , I use a XP-Pen Deco 01 digital pen tablet that I bought specifically for this purpose. I used to use a mouse but it made my hand cramp up.
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