You don’t need fancy or specialized equipment to teach online – in fact, you may have everything you need already. You do not need a top-of-the-line computer, as you won’t need lots of processing power. You simply need enough processing power to run a few simple programs, enough disk space to save the materials you’ll be using, and a good solid internet connection.
Your current PC or Mac may in fact be just fine. However, you may need to purchase a webcam if your computer doesn’t have one built in. Also, I strongly recommend using a headset, as you will hear your student better when using one, and he/she will also hear you better. Here are some recommendations:
Most newer computers have a webcam built right in, but if your computer doesn’t have one, you can easily install one. Typically the camera clips on to the top of your screen, and the other end of the cord plugs into a USB slot. Easy enough!
You can buy a webcam online at sites like Amazon or BestBuy. If there is an electronics store near your home, you may prefer to buy your camera there, in case you need to return or exchange it for any reason.
Webcams aren’t expensive, generally between US$30-$60. Logitech’s model C310 offers a good image at a great price.
While your computer’s built-in camera likely will be adequate, its built-in microphone will probably not be. Even if it’s good quality, unless you have a very quiet space in which to teach, it’s going to pick up background noise. You’ll hear your student better using a headset, and she will hear you better, when you are using a headset mike. So make the modest investment required.
Again, Logitech is a good brand. I’ve used Logitech’s model H390, shown at right, which costs less than $40, and like it a lot. It’s lightweight. The earpads are spongy, so that they are both comfortable and pretty effective at shutting out extraneous noise. It has a volume control in the cord.
Another good choice is the Microsoft Lifechat (model LX-300 shown at left). which can be found for US$25 – $30.
Plantronics also offers a good line of headsets.
All of these are reputable brands which can be found online, in BestBuy, or in the electronics departments of larger department stores.