Which platforms can be used for online classes?
Skype, Microsoft Teams, Teams and Google Hangouts are great platforms to connect teachers and students. They offer group chats, screen sharing and video conferencing for an interactive class. Both are free of charge for private users and run on most operating systems (incl. Windows, MacOS, Android) and web browsers.
If Skype and Microsoft Teams are not available, teachers can record prompts, briefings and explanations as short videos with a smartphone. These can be sent out via email or messenger services like WhatsApp or shared on YouTube within a closed group.
Tip: Good sound and video quality make a big difference when teaching from home. A webcam helps to address students as it makes communication more natural and much easier.
What software is available for teachers?
Apart from specialized software and platforms for remote teaching, teachers can also make use of things at hand. MS Office programs including Word, PowerPoint and OneNote and Acrobat Reader or any other program for annotating PDF files all can be used to prepare lessons and create teaching materials for the virtual classroom. Another option is OpenBoard (www.openboard.ch), a free and easy to use, browser based digital whiteboard software.
Tip: The live drawing functionalities in these programs in combination with a Wacom display are a good way to bring the blackboard into the digital classroom. Because a quick sketch or a handwritten annotation help to explain and direct focus.
What hardware do teachers need?
A PC or Mac and an internet connection already cover the basic needs to create a virtual classroom. For more interactive online classes or subjects that rely heavily on graphs or formulas, sketches and visualizations, like math and sciences, a pen tablet or display can be a very helpful addition to the set up.
Wacom pen displays are easy and intuitive to use and connect to any computer (Mac, PC, Android). It’s like working with classic teaching media such as blackboards, whiteboards or overhead projectors. Because of the natural hand-eye coordination new users can adapt quickly to it.
Tip: The Wacom One or Wacom Cintiq 16 are competitively priced pen displays. If multi-touch or a higher resolution is needed, the Cintiq Pro 16, Cintiq Pro 24 are perfect. An alternative is the Wacom Intuos pen tablet. However, adjusting handwriting and coordination might take a little longer than with a display.
What do students need?
Students will only need a laptop, computer with build in speakers and microphone as well as access to the internet to join the virtual class. The respective apps for Skype or Microsoft Teams are easy to install. Sometimes even a simple web browser will be enough to follow the online lessons.
Tip: Young creatives who like to draw, make comics, or edit photos and videos will like the possibilities a pen display like the Wacom One can offer.