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  • Allen Tsao

Equipment for Online Tutoring

To get started with online tutoring, you want to have the following basic equipment:

  • Computer

  • Writing Tablet Input for Computer

  • Microphone and Headphones

  • Webcam

I’ll go into each of these categories, and also list out the equipment that I use. Note, I do receive a commission from Amazon if you use my referral link (which adds no cost to you), but I use all of these products with my own tutoring business.


Computer

For the computer, I use a desktop Windows PC. A laptop will work in a pinch, but I prefer a larger monitor, as well as a second monitor. In my setup, the primary monitor is the whiteboard that I use to interact with my student. The second monitor is used to pull up problems or images from the student so I can easily copy and paste from there to the whiteboard. While it’s definitely doable to do this all on a single monitor, I find having a second monitor makes the session run smoother.


Most of my suggestions are geared for a Windows computer, because that’s what I’m most familiar with. It’s likely that a many of the tools I use could be used in a Mac environment, but I am not as familiar with the Mac environment. However, don’t let that stop you as most of my recommendations and tips aren’t really dependent on Windows. I don’t have a recommendation for a specific computer as mine is custom built, but any desktop PC should be fine.


I have tried something simpler like a Chromebook with a stylus and pen. What I’ve found is that it’s really cumbersome to write on the screen with the screen is up like a laptop. The hand positioning doesn’t feel natural. I’m able to flip the screen so I can write on it like a tablet, but then the webcam doesn’t capture my face correctly. I would imagine the same issues would arise with any other type of touchscreen laptop. As nice as it sounds to have a portable laptop that I can write on the screen, I just haven’t found it that easy to use.


Writing Tablet Input

This is a must-have item. It’s extremely cumbersome to write with the mouse, so having something where you can write similar to a pen is the most useful. There are a lot of different writing tablets out there. The more expensive ones like Wacom tablets are targeted towards artists who need high levels of pressure sensitivity to get the right detail for their artwork. Unless you are actually teaching art, I don’t recommend spending money on one of those. Instead, I use a low-cost writing tablet that’s good enough for handwriting and math problems.


When looking for a good tablet, you’ll want to consider the following factors:

  • Size of the writing area

  • Pen requiring a battery

  • Mapped buttons

You want to consider how large the writing area is. I like it as big as possible, to make the writing more fluid so something around the size of a piece of paper is ideal.


Some tablets have pens that require a battery. I previously used a tablet that requires a battery, and I still keep it as a backup tablet. However, it can be an annoyance when the pen runs out of battery in the middle of a session, and you have to tell your student you need to go get a battery. If you do go this route, I suggest always having a second battery on hand near you computer just in case.


Some tablets have physical buttons added onto it. I didn’t really consider this useful at the time, but I now heavily rely on it. The tablet I use has 8 buttons that I can map to specific commands. I tend to map them to copy, paste, and undo, but you can set them to any command you want. And if you couple this with Autohotkey scripts, then you’ll find the buttons incredibly helpful.


My Tablet: