The Best Online Tutoring Setup on a Budget – The Bronze Setup
by Dr Scott R. Dempsey on 10th December, 2019
As we outlined in the Ultimate Equipment Guide, pound-for-pound the Bronze Setup will provide the most noticeable difference in your online tutoring sessions. It is the most cost-effective way to improve your online tutoring experience if you currently own a regular computer or laptop, without a touchscreen.
If you don’t already have a laptop or desktop in place and would like to start tutoring online within a limited budget, consider a Chromebook, which you can often pickup for under £300:
The good news is that you can massively enhance your online tutoring experience at relatively little cost. The secret is to add a drawing tablet to your sessions.
Drawing tablets offer two huge benefits over a mouse and keyboard for online tutoring:
1) A Drawing Tablet (or Touchscreen) Makes it Easier and More Enjoyable to Use an Online Whiteboard or Classroom
Whilst a mouse is good for clicking and scrolling, it was never designed to draw and write on an online whiteboard. The addition of a drawing tablet will not only make the experience more enjoyable but allow you to produce better looking work in the virtual classroom. This will help the learning and teaching during the session itself, but is perhaps even more impactful when reviewing recorded sessions at a later date.
For comparison, here is an example of an exam question drawn with a mouse in Bramble compared with the same question written with a drawing tablet.
As you can see there is only a small difference in the appearance, but it took a lot longer with the mouse (to produce that level of precision) and it was less comfortable to do so. Furthermore, when using the mouse, because it is a less natural process, you are less focused on the learning and/or teaching and more focused on the drawing and writing process. That brings us to the second, and perhaps most important benefit.
2) A Pen and Drawing Tablet (or Touchscreen) Simulates the Same Kinesthetic Movement as Writing with Pen and Paper
Numerous studies have shown how hand writing your notes while studying improves your learning due to the kinesthetic-tactile learning style; which, when combined with visual and auditory techniques, provides the student with a multi-sensory learning experience.
In addition to learning, wrting and drawing by hand is also linked to:
- Enhanced Focus
- Increased Productivity
- Improved Memory
- Greater Creativity
The great news is that with the addition of a drawing tablet, you can utilise all of the great benefits that technology brings to online tutoring while still incorporating a multi-sensory approach to learning.
So What Drawing Tablet Should You Use?
As we suggested in the Ultimate Equipment Guide, our recommendation would be the Parblo Island A609, which retails at ~ £40. The Parblo is one of the larger drawing tablets at 20x13cm but provides an excellent drawing experience. If you are looking for something a bit smaller, the Wacom Intuos Draw at 15x9cm is a great and slightly more portable alternative. To see a full review of these drawing tablets, together with the cheapest tablet on the market, you can find our article here.
Finally, if you are looking for an even better online tutoring experience and have a slightly higher budget, check out our Silver Setup. Looking for the best possible experience? Check out the Gold Setup, which starts at just £450
Reviews and Supporting Studies
The following articles and studies provide additional information on how using a pen and writing by hand can improve learning and cognition: