Online Class - What I need to know
The COVID-19 pandemic made its impact on work and education.
Due to coronavirus, more and more people end up working from the comforts of their home. You would either bump into remote workers working a day job, or you would encounter freelancers.
Thanks to COVID-19, online education is on the rise as well. Schools and universities are shut down for the sake of social distancing, which moves students to online classes.
However, the coronavirus also brings us some opportunities. Because online education is becoming more popular, it's a great chance to start your career as an online tutor. You can even create your online lesson.
This blog post will explain everything you need to know on how to set up an online class.
What technical requirements you should meet
Before you set up your online class, you need to make sure that you have met all the technical requirements. This will help you avoid any technical difficulties down the road.
Since you will be using a webinar platform to conduct your online course, your computer must meet certain requirements in terms of its specifications.
First, your computer should have at least 4 GB RAM, so that you can properly run all programs that you need at the same time.
Internet speed is crucial for a high-quality online class.
In general, the minimum internet speed should be at least 5 Mbps for running your class without any connection issues. This goes for both the tutor and students.
What equipment you should use
Because you're conducting your course online, there is certain equipment that you will need.
As we mentioned earlier, you will need a headset with a microphone. An ideal one would be a headset with noise-canceling features, so your students can only hear your voice.
Below, you will find some common headset brands and models.
Sennheiser PC 8 USB
That is the wired headset I personally find the most comfortable. It connects through USB, which gives improved sound quality, minimal chance of breaking up, and any kind of background noise.
Like most headsets, this model has a microphone toggle, which lets you mute or unmutes your microphone.
Sennheiser RS 120-8 II
Wired headsets are not for everyone. That applied to people who are not comfortable sitting on one spot throughout the lesson.
This headset is wireless, and hence is the right solution for you. You can even conduct your course standing by the whiteboard, instead of sitting by your computer.
Logitech H390 Stereo Headset
This is one of the most affordable headsets, which costs around 30-40 USD. Despite the price, it has pretty much the same functionality as the Sennheiser PC-8 headset.
It is wired and connects through USB. Additionally, it has a microphone muting toggle.
What users praise this model for is it's microphone and the sound quality.
So, if you're looking for a headset model that is cheap and is of good quality, this is the model you should consider.
Plantronics - Audio 355 Stereo Headset
This is another affordable headset option under your belt with about the same price range as the previous headset.
The only difference is that this headset connects through a jack instead of USB. It has two separate jacks: one for the microphone and one for the headset itself. If this headset is your choice, be sure that your computer has ports for both the headset microphone and the speakers.
You will need a webcam, which will help you conduct your course professionally and your students can see your face.
If you like to use a whiteboard of your own, you can put it in front of your webcam. That way you can show your notes to your students.
Logitech StreamCam Graphite
This webcam gives you a Full HD video resolution, which is suitable for showing any notes or graphics made by hand. For instance, if you use a whiteboard for making notes, the camera resolution will allow your students to see what you write.
If you prefer to record your lessons in a vertical orientation, you can just rotate the camera to switch to that mode.
OS compatibility: Windows 10, MacOS 10.14, or newer.
Connection type: USB-C
Microsoft LifeCam Cinema
This webcam is one of the most affordable options listed since its price ranges between 60-70 USD.
If you’re on a budget and looking for a webcam for your classes, this is an option to check out.
OS Compatibility: Windows 7 or higher, partially compatible with MacOS 10.7 or higher
Connection type: USB
Canyon 2K Quad HD Live Streaming Webcam
This webcam has a video resolution of 1536p, which is higher than that of a Logitech webcam. It's more advanced than Full HD.
There's one drawback: videos of this resolution are only recorded at 20 fps, compared to lower resolution videos, which are at 30 fps. In other words, the videos recorded at the higher resolution will be slightly rougher as opposed to videos of moderate resolutions.
OS Compatibility: Windows 10 or higher, MacOS 10.6 or higher, and even Android v5.0 or higher
Connection type: USB
If Full HD resolution is a must for you, this webcam is another option you can consider.
Compared to Logitech StreamCam, HP HD-4310 also lets you upload your classes to social media. For instance, it lets you upload your recordings to YouTube, if you need it, or if you plan to create your own educational channel.
Additionally, it is compatible with older computer OS, such as Windows Vista or Windows XP, but unfortunately, it’s only compatible with Windows. If you’re still using one of these OS, you should look into this model for sure.
OS Compatibility: Windows XP or higher
Connection type: USB
Lighting is also important when you do webinars or online courses. You want to make sure all participants can see your face, because regular lights may not provide the kind of lighting that you need.
MACTREM 15 cm (6 in.) LED Ring Light with Tripod Stand
This lamp is meant specifically for webinars and online classes.
You can adjust the angle of the lamp and the light intensity to get the lighting that you want.
On Amazon, it’s sold for around 20 USD before shipping expenses. This means that this lamp can be a great option if you’re starting your online class on a budget.
Socialite 36 cm (14 in.) Ring Light
This is a more sophisticated lamp model. It has a 1.8 m (6 ft) extendable stand, which is suitable for users who prefer to stand while conducting their classes.
Also, this lamp has a remote, so you can adjust the light intensity from a distance.
Choosing the right conference platform is the next step in preparing your online class.
There are many platforms that you can choose from. Some are free, while for some you'll have to pay.
This is the most accessible platform for conducting your online classes. You just need to have a Gmail account to use it.
It is very simple to use. You just need to create a meeting from your Gmail account and send an invitation to your students.
Many people use Skype for communicating with their friends or family members living abroad. However, it is also useful in business, especially in online education.
One advantage Skype has over Google Meets is that it lets you make notes using the OneNotes tool. The notes that you make are editable by all participants: both organizer and attendees.
Also, Skype has a whiteboard tool, if you need to draw any graphs or sketches to convey your thoughts.
This is another popular platform for video conferences and online classes.
Even though it has features and functions similar to Skype's, Zoom allows the exchange of files through Google Disk and Dropbox. Also, it supports a wider range of networks: Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE, and 3G.
Once you've checked your computer parameters and chosen your webinar platform, you are now ready to set up your online lesson.
1. Connect your equipment
Make sure your headset and webcam are connected to your computer.
Run a test for each device to assure they work properly.
2. Run an internet speed test
Before you begin your class, it is very important to make sure your internet is stable and is fast enough. This means that you need to run an internet speed check. I highly recommend using Speedtest by Ookla.
Be sure you get in a habit of doing this check daily.
3. Do a test class
This step can be very helpful before beginning your main online lesson. If you do a test class with someone, you can double-check to make sure you have everything working on your end.
A good idea would be asking your friends or family members to join your class. Ask them if they can hear you well if they can see what you're presenting and so on.
Now you know how to set up an online class effectively. Before you set up your online class station, do thorough research on platforms and equipment.
Are you teaching online? If you have experience in online education, please share your experience and suggestions in the comment section.
I am German and I was born in Russia in 1995. I spent 14 years in the English speaking environment, including 5 years in Canada from 2014 to 2019. I enjoy traveling and learning about foreign countries, cultures, and languages. I also enjoy blogging and perfecting my skills in it.