I already have a laptop and a headset. Is there anything else that I need to start teaching online? It looks like the teachers that are teaching children have a lot of props and stuffed animals. Is that required for every school or just the more popular ones?
There is a full list of equipment here. That should get you started. Here is a further breakdown to help you out.
Are you a Mac user or a Windows user? In the past, when many of the Chinese schools first came online, most of their applications were built only in Windows.
Luckily, this does not seem to be an issue anymore, but you still need to be cautious. Having a computer that runs on Windows is your safest choice.
We have an article written on this topic in case you are interested to read it here. Just like the article on headsets, there is a list of the top laptops for educators that can be found at the bottom.
HP, Asus, Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, and Dell are among the best sellers for lower cost, yet quality laptops. The updated list can be found here. Furthermore, most of the Chromebooks at the proper specifications for teaching English online. Here are automatically updated lists of best selling and new laptops for HP, Asus, Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, and Dell.
Note: You should be cautious when it comes to working on Chromebooks. There can be issues with the applications that some of the schools require you to work from. These issues are rare, but we have seen this with certain schools.
If you have a laptop or desktop with 4gb of RAM and an intel i3 or above then you will be fine. Having an equivalent AMD processor such as a phenom ii x4 (980 and lower) or fx 6100 is sufficient. Please check the list of resources on our website since this will eventually change.
Your best bet is to have a computer running on Windows 10 or higher. Yes, there are plenty of schools that allow you to work on MAC OSX and above, but many Chinese schools prefer Windows.
One of the main tools that you will be using is a good quality headset. Make sure you choose wisely and understand that this is an important investment.
Keep in mind that if you have a Mac, you need to get a USB or Bluetooth headset. The exception is if you have a MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro supports audio input as well as output so you can use a typical three pin headset with microphone.
Many teachers go with the Logitech series of headsets. They seem to be the most reliable out of all of them. There are other brands to keep in mind such as Plantronics and Microsoft. Surprisingly enough, Microsoft makes high-quality headsets for teaching online including the LifeChat LX3000 which is preferred by iTutor.
There is an article on the subject here.
Internal or External HD Camera
Most laptops come with built-in webcams. When you are looking for a new laptop make sure that you get one with an HD webcam built in. If you do not have a high-quality camera or are running on a desktop then you can purchase an external webcam.
The main specification when buying a webcam is pixels and frames per second. Look for one that has 1080p at 30fps. 720p at 30fps will also deliver a high-quality stream to your students. Do note as well that many cameras list 1080p for screen recording, but when you look at the specifications for streaming that might run at 720p. Here is a guide with more information.
The other specs that are important for online teaching are autofocus and face tracking. Do not forget to check to see if it will run on your operating system.
You can also look for a camera that has a noise reduction microphone built in in case you are going to use it for other purposes beyond teaching. For teaching online we recommend that you use a headset with noise reduction microphone. Your built-in microphone has more of a tendency to pick up sounds from you typing on the keyboard which can be distracting for the students.
Wifi Versus Wired
Some of the schools do require that you have a LAN connection to your computer. Many of the new laptops you not have this capability. What you have to do, is purchased a USB adapter to plug into a LAN connection.
Of course there are still many schools that allow you to teach on Wifi. We are just suggesting that if you have the capability to get a LAN that you invest in one.
Smartphone/Tablet iOS and Android
Near the end of 2017, we saw an increase in jobs that allow you to teach from your smartphone or tablet. This is a nice way to make some extra money but just keep in mind that these opportunities pay less than most of the others. This is an interesting area of teaching to keep an eye on.
Here are some links to whiteboards, props, and stuffed animals in case you are teaching children.
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