“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” - Mahatma Gandhi

It’s difficult to do private tutorials from your bed, but you can get private tutorials from the comfort of your own home.

Each year, millions of students get private tutorials. Tutorials can take place in the presence of the tutor at your house, at the tutor’s house, or in a public place such as a library.

To save money and time, students can opt for online tutorials where they can learn from their own home. There are more tutors available, you can use the internet for exercises, you can schedule tutorials at any time of day, there are tonnes of advantages.

But what do you need in terms of equipment? What tools do you need to do an online class?

In this article, we're going to look at the equipment you'll need for HD video conferencing, the best video conferencing software, video conferencing equipment, and how online video communication can be used for online private tutorials.

Equipment for Online Tutorials: Computers

After carefully searching, you’ve found your perfect tutor. The only problem is that they live 200 miles away. You could always try to find another private tutor but you don’t want to waste more time. Fortunately for you, you can always get online tutorials remotely. To do this, though, you’ll need the right equipment and a working computer.

Which computer do you need for an online tutorial?
A computer, tablet, or smartphone is essential for online private tutorials. (Source: Free-Photos)

You could use either a desktop or a laptop as long as it works fine. Just avoid using an old computer that takes half an hour to start up. Some recommend using a PC over a Mac because there are more video conferencing programmes available for Windows. However, you can always talk with your tutor about video conferencing software and you shouldn’t have to change your computer just to get online tutorials.

You can even get academic support tutorials, maths classes, or foreign language classes using your tablet. In any case, don’t turn your computer or laptop on just before your lesson. Consider getting ready quarter of an hour before your lesson so you can check that everything’s working fine.

Also, make sure you regularly update your computer or tablet so that the updates don’t start installing in the middle of your class. You won't get the most out of video conferencing systems if you can't even make a video conference call because of your computer's updating.

Online tutorials: The Internet Connection

A good internet connection is essential if you want online tutorials as video calls use a decent amount of bandwidth and if your internet connection isn’t quick enough, it’ll cut out, freeze, and make the whole experience unbearable. You’ll spend more time fixing technical issues than learning. If you’re not getting the most out of your online private tutorials, you run the risk of getting sick of it and giving them up altogether.

Fibre optic internet is still the best option if you want a good connection and HD video. However, ADSL is good enough for online tutorials if the connection is stable. In some cases, you'll need video conferencing services that are capable of HD video so that you and your tutor can see clearly.

To check if your internet connection is fast enough, you can use Speedtest. You can test your internet connection’s speed both in terms of upload, download, and ping.

Skype requires a minimum of 1.5Mbits/s for a high-quality video call. If the connection isn’t quick enough over your wifi connection, consider connecting your computer directly to the router via an ethernet cable. This can greatly increase the speed of your connection. If your internet connection leaves a lot to be desired, you might want to consider changing providers.

You can always go to a library and see if they have individual study rooms you can use so that you don’t bother anyone else there.

Tools for Online Tutorials: Microphones

Whether they’re catchup classes, maths tutorials, or a Spanish class, being able to talk to your tutor is important. When the tutor asks you questions, you really should be able to answer without having to type.

What kind of internet connection do you need for online tutorials?
If your wifi isn't fast enough, consider connecting your computer to the router using an ethernet cable. (Source: Fotocitizen)

Similarly, each student needs to be able to ask questions in the same way they would if the tutor were there in the room with them. The microphone is essential for communicating and sharing information with your tutor as you would do in any other class.

If your computer has a built-in microphone, you might be fine, but make sure you test it first. If it doesn’t work, you can always replace it with an external microphone.

You can get replacement mics for under £20 or even get a headset that allows you to both speak to your tutor and hear them using the same device. You can get these for under £20, too.

Choose the solution that works best for you and your tutor.

Learn more about what to expect in online tutorials.

Cameras for Online Private Tutorials

While you don’t necessarily need to be seen by your tutor, it can help a lot. This helps make communication between the tutor and the student more natural as if they were there in the room with you. Furthermore, you may need to show your tutor your work, for example.

What kind of webcam do you need for online private tutorials?
While most laptops now come with a webcam built-in, you might want to invest in a better one. (Source: Aksa2011)

It also helps to be able to explain something visually. In this case, you must have your webcam turned on.

Most computers now come with a built-in webcam. If this isn’t the case or your webcam’s quality isn’t great, you can get cheap and decent webcams. Similarly, if you have a digital camera, you may be able to plug it into your computer and use it as a webcam.

Don’t forget to check that the camera and microphone are set up and correctly configured before you start. There may be certain settings that you need to change before you can start your tutorials.

Find out more about the cost of online tutorials.

Video Conferencing Software for Online Private Tutorials

Your webcam and microphone won’t be much use if you don’t have the software to communicate with your tutor. You’ll need to download some video conferencing software so that you can get in touch with each other. Some platforms, such as Classgap, have their own video conferencing platform.

If this isn’t the case, you can always use Skype or Anymeeting, for example. In addition to Skype and Anymeeting, there's also Zoom Video Communications, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, HighFive, HipChat, Workplace by Facebook, Zoho Cliq, HipChat, Lifesize, GoToWebinar, Pigeonhole Live, and Roundee. While the jury's out on the best videoconferencing software, it'll probably be down to the tutor's preference.

While a lot of these platforms are used for online meetings, audio conferencing, conference calls, and webinars, there are teleconferencing and web conferencing platforms you have to pay for and others that are free. Ideally, you want your tutor to suggest a platform that you don't have to pay for, but in some cases, the functionality will be worth it.

You can also use chat clients to type messages to each other and share files. Your tutor can even share their screen with you to correct exercises, etc. Some of these platforms are essentially virtual meeting rooms and since the tutor saves on travel costs, you'll pay less for your tutorials.

Screen sharing allows you to see exactly what the other person sees on their screen. This is useful for correcting documents and most video conferencing solutions include screen sharing, audio and video calls, and plenty of collaboration tools so that you can work together.

Online Music Tutorials

If you’re doing music tutorials or learning how to play an instrument, you’ll need additional materials. Firstly, you’ll need to discuss this with your tutor. In a music tutorial, you’ll need to be able to replicate the techniques your tutor shows you.

What kind of microphone do you need for online private tutorials?
A basic microphone will be fine for most types of tutorials but music tutorials may require better (and more expensive) audio equipment. (Source: Didgeman)

Your tutor will also need to be able to see and hear whether or not you’re performing these techniques correctly. Thus, you’ll need to focus your camera and microphone on your instrument.

Of course, you’ll also need to be able to ask questions. Buying a second microphone may be a good idea. Thus, you can have one picking up the sound from your instrument and another to be able to talk to your tutor. You’ll probably want a headset and a regular microphone.

Advice for Online Private Tutorials

Choose a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted during your private tutorials. If you’re at home, remind your family to not disturb you while you’re in your lesson.

Turn off notifications on your phone, close all the windows on your web browser, and ensure that there are no distractions from your social media. You must concentrate and pay as much attention to your remote private tutor as you would any other tutor.

Now you just have to go out and get the right equipment. Of course, as useful as web conferencing is for learning, it can quickly derail a lesson if your video conferencing system fails you.

Certain subjects, like art, for example, might benefit a lot from HD video conferencing since your tutor will need to see what you've done. Of course, you can always take HD photos of your work and share your screen in one click. However, in most cases, you won't need Skype for business or exceptional video quality. There are different services you need to consider and a lot of the professional-grade ones come with a free trial.

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.