I’ve been offering online tutoring for years, but I’m relying on it more than ever amid all of the COVID-19 chaos. Online tutoring is a win-win situation for both tutors and students! With the proper setup, I believe it is better than in-person tutoring in every way. In this article, I describe and link to the best tools and software for online tutoring.
Here’s a list of all the tools you need to get started with online tutoring! This is a list of what I use personally. There are lots of other options, but this is what works well for me.
You do not need anything high-end; a mid-range Acer laptop will do just fine. I bought the Acer Aspire E 15 a year-and-a-half ago, and it still works great. Don’t worry about the exact model, but I would try to find something with at least 6GB of RAM. I do not recommend using a phone or tablet for online tutoring.
If you’re in a pinch you can get by with earbuds and your laptop mic, but I strongly recommend having a comfortable headset so that your audio is clean and you can comfortably hear your student. This is 100% necessary if you’re tutoring online in a public location.
The headset I use is the Logitech H390 ClearChat (pictured above). I bought it 5 years ago and it still works just fine. Once again, the exact model isn’t that important, but this is the type of headset you want. I’m sure you can find a good deal for a new/used headset on eBay. Here’s another alternative on Amazon.
A quality drawing tablet is often the missing tool holding tutors back and making their online tutoring less than ideal. With a Wacom Intuos tablet you will be able to write and draw as effectively as you do on paper. I have a Wacom Intuos CTH480, an older model I bought 5 years ago, and it has held up perfectly (notice a trend here? ). If you’re looking to buy one now, I recommend the Wacom Intuos CTL4100.
There are bigger and fancier models, but I haven’t had the need for anything more. You’re mainly paying for a larger writing surface and Bluetooth capabilities so you don’t have to deal with a USB cable.
Skype and Zoom are my go-to tools for online tutoring. I currently use the free versions of both, but will likely move to one of the paid plans for Zoom soon. Be sure and download the desktop clients for both. I don’t have any Apple products and therefore don’t use FaceTime. I’ve found that it is good to have more than 1 platform for online tutoring and allow parents/students to pick the option that they are the most comfortable with.
- Private Tutoring (1-on-1): Skype or Zoom
- Classes or Group Tutoring: Zoom or Google Hangouts
I typically start each lesson with a brief introduction and discussion of what we’re going to work on. Then, I share my screen and either bring up a blank PowerPoint presentation or digital whiteboard (lots of options for this – will cover in a future post). Zoom’s annotation features are very handy and it’s easy to save screenshots to send to students. That said, I usually put everything we work on into a PowerPoint presentation and then convert it to a PDF and email it to the student after the lesson.
I don’t currently have a green screen background, but this Webaround Portable Green Screen that attaches to your chair is a cool option that I’m considering. You can make your lessons look more professional and don’t have to worry about having a mess in the background. I alternate between a standing desk and sitting so I’d probably have to find a different option for my standing desk.
Regardless of whether you have a green screen or not, I strongly recommend using video. Students like it and it makes things more personal. I leave it up to the students as to whether or not they use video.
You can get a very nice setup for online tutoring with relatively little money and expect everything to last for a while. If you have any questions about these tools or how to setup them up, feel free to email me at the address below. Also, all of the links in this article are referral links and I’d appreciate you using them to purchase the items you need for online tutoring.
I plan to write a separate post specifically geared towards what students need for online tutoring and will post the link here once it’s published.
Finally, if you’re looking for online tutoring for math (all levels) or PSAT/SAT/ACT prep (all sections), I have a ton of experience and would love to help. Contact me at the email address above or check out my Facebook page. Thanks!
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