4 smart pieces of tech to upgrade your online learning

If you're teaching from home, does your tech set-up need upgrading? We look at devices that might help

Grainne Hallahan

Online learning: Four pieces of edtech that could help teachers with remote teaching

You're probably getting into the swing of home learning now (or, at least, more adept at shouting "Bear with me!" at the screen), and perhaps you're thinking of adding to your tech kit.

But before you start firing off links to your IT department and dipping into your faculty budget, check out our summary of what your tech options are:

Tech options to improve online learning

1. Visualiser

The visualiser is a really useful tool whether you're online learning or not; if you have one in your classroom, it's definitely worth investigating whether you can bring it home.

You can connect it to your laptop and switch to the visualiser camera during your live lesson, or use it to record yourself while you model work for a prerecorded lesson.

It is also possible to download an app and turn your phone into a visualiser. Watch the video below on how to set it up.

WATCH: Teacher Tim Dolan explain how to use a phone visualiser in live teaching

Possible drawbacks?

The visualiser can cause your video to lag when streaming live. If this happens, ascertain if it is your visualiser causing the issue by testing it on its own when not streaming; if it is still lagging, check the USB or Bluetooth connection.

If it is a streaming issue, try shutting everything down to reduce bandwidth and check you don't have anyone else in the house simultaneously trying to download three films and watch Disney+.

2. Graphics tablet

If you're missing your whiteboard, a graphics tablet may be the thing to make online teaching feel more like a normal classroom experience.

It's essentially just a stylus pen and a small black square on which you can draw or write things that appear on the computer screen. If you've been trying to draw on an online whiteboard with your mouse and despairing at the childish scrawls that have appeared, then this is for you.

WATCH: Best graphics tablet for teachers

Possible drawbacks?

These devices can come with a high price tag, but you don't need a fancy one, a basic model will suffice.

If your school offers photography, graphics or other digital technology courses, there may be spare ones on-site. It's worth emailing around to find out before you put a request in to buy one.

3. Double screens

"Can everyone see my screen?" may have been the catchphrase for 2020, but for 2021 we can be more sophisticated.

Another screen will eliminate the need to ever say those words again. A second screen will ensure that you can see what the students see, or you can use it to bring up other resources that you need to refer to while you're teaching.

WATCH: Second screen set-up for home teaching

Possible drawbacks?

If you are short on space, a second screen may not be practical. But it doesn't need to be a full-size monitor – a tablet or mobile phone can do the job.

4. A laptop stand

Having your laptop low on the desk is bad for posture, bad for your neck (and also a really unflattering angle for video!).

Lifting up your laptop a few inches can make a big difference, and after hours spent staring at a computer screen, you'll soon be glad you did.

Possible drawbacks?

You can buy fancy stands, but books stacked underneath will often do the same job. Also, think about adjusting the height of your chair, as well as spending time stretching your arms and shoulders during the day to avoid cramp.

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Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is Tes recruitment editor and senior content writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @heymrshallahan

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