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Online teaching guide for aspiring teachers

I receive many queries regarding online teaching often asking questions similar to what I already answered hundreds of times. To help more people without having to repeat, I compiled all the questions and some more to make a comprehensive guide to online teaching which I hope will help many teachers who are new or unaware about this. This guide is not an end in itself but is an excellent starting point. If you are an experienced online teacher and have any feedback or additions, please feel free to contact/comment for the same.

What is online teaching?

For the purpose of this guide, Online teaching is the practice of teaching to an individual or a group online. Basically, it's live-real time-instruction where teacher and student(s) are in different locations. What that means is that you can teach anyone anywhere from the comfort of your home. 

There has never been a better time to teach online. Awareness of online learning options is increasing every day. As more people join the internet with ever-improving internet connections, there is no end to where this opportunity would stop.

Who can teach online?

To be an online teacher, you need the following minimum:

  1. You should have or be willing to learn basic computer skills.
  2. A good internet connection and a computer/laptop
  3. Command of the subject you are going to teach.
  4. Digital pen (optional, discussed below)

How much can I earn?

That question makes sense when someone is employing you. If a company is hiring you directly, you should ask them. If however, you work independently, then it works the same way as it worked before the internet:

You charge as much as you want.

Teachers registered in teacheron.com charge from less than $1 to over $100 per hour. Everyone charges based on their skills, living standard, the country they are in, existing clientele, and the demand for their particular skill.

If you are not sure what to charge, start from the minimum and increase gradually with experience. 

What are the timings?

Unless you are employed by a company, you can decide the timing yourself. Since online teaching is global and different individuals have different preferences, you should talk to the students and come to an agreement regarding the time that suits you and the student. I know teachers who go on a trip and take their laptop with them, enjoy during the day and teach from their hotel room at night.

How to teach online?

There are various tools available to teach online, free and paid. If you don't want to spend money initially, you can just use the free tools as they work almost as well.

Skype

Skype is my favorite go to tool. Why?
It's free, has millions of users, has screen sharing and video calling in addition to audio calls. Its sound quality is better than most other services, free or paid.

Here are some tips to use Skype in addition to the usual calling features which will help you in the session:

  • Skype test call or Echo/Sound Test service: This is the default contact in your Skype. At times when you call someone, you can't hear them or they can't hear you. The problem can be in the audio of either. It's easier to test with Skype test call. It takes less than a minute and tells whose system is at fault.
  • Share screen: In case you want to show the student something on your screen or see what they are doing on theirs, this feature is located in the toolbar of the ongoing call.


    What you should know is that even though your screen is shared, the viewer can't do anything on your screen. They can just watch your screen like a movie. To enable others to do stuff on your computer we can use TeamViewer which I will discussed later.
     
  • Send files: You can send files by using the option in the chat menu or by simply dragging the file in the chat window.

TeamViewer

I am in love with this software. It's easy to install and convenient to use. If you use skype screen sharing, you might notice that at times the video hangs while the audio is still working. For a reliable screen sharing experience, I use Teamviewer. Teamviewer also allows you to give control to the other party so they can work on your system. This feature comes in handy for things that can't be done on whiteboard, for example if you are showing somone how to work on PowerPoint or teaching web development, you will need screen sharing with control.

Online whiteboards

Online whiteboards are just like the blackboards and whiteboards we use in a physical classroom. They also have some additional features like the ability to upload documents, write/copy/paste text etc. I am listing two of my current favorites. If these do not exist in the future, you can easily google "Online whiteboard" and you will see many options. Once you are on the board, you get a unique link which you give to your student so both of you are on the same board. This allows you to see what the student is doing and vice versa.

  1. AwwApp: It's free, easy to use, requires no registration. Simply go to awwapp.com and click on Start drawing and you are good to go. You will notice various options in the sidebar which you should explore. 


  2. Idroo: Idroo is more artistic and is more functional than Awwapp but it requires you to log in. One of the main reason I like Idroo is that you can see the other person's mouse pointer as it moves on the Idroo page. This helps to point at things on the board easily and ensures that teacher and student are looking at the same thing.

:

Digital pen

Writing on a whiteboard is painfully slow and difficult if you are using a mouse or touchpad. In order to make the writing on whiteboard easy and fast, we use digital pens. 

Following is a video on how to use a Vacom digital pen. Given that all digital pens work the same way, you can buy a cheaper iBall digital pen. If you are not comfortable shopping online, you can get a digital pen from a local shop which sells computer accessories. 

If you want to teach any of the usual academic subjects online and you want to do it properly, you must have a digital pen.

How to collect payment for online work?

Here are my three favorites in that order:

  1. Directly in the bank: This should be your default for receiving payments if the student is in the same country as you are or they can make payment in the bank. There is no fee to you when they transfer money. You get the money almost instantaneously. Therefore, it's the best option 
  2. Transferwise: Transferwise is a relatively new service from same people who made Skype. I use them for receiving international payments. Their service is exceptional. They also have the lowest fee as compared to any other money exchange service in the world. They are even cheaper than Western Union which at times claim to send money for no fee but take a hefty cut in the exchange rate itself which most people don't realize. 
  3. PayPal: It's the most convenient of all but that comes at a price. They take almost 5% commission upfront and if there is a conversion, you should be ready to pay an extra 3-5% on the currency exchange which is a lot. It's a decent racket but I use them from time to time because of the convenience and the trust many people place in them. 
  4. Western Union: If you don't want the money to be found by your income tax department, this would be your favorite. You can get money in cash, below a certain limit. It can be expensive therefore you should prefer Transferwise.

Tools for accounts and finance tutors

Along with mind-boggling numbers, finance and accounts teachers have to deal with tables and never-ending columns of data. Solving all this data manually over the whiteboard can be a real pain. Thankfully, Google has a free answer to all your troubles. Even though many people are aware of Google Drive, they aren’t using it the way they that would make their life easier.

So this is how we do it - login to your Google account, go to Google Drive, click on Create, and then select spreadsheet. A new spreadsheet should open up. You can share this with the student. What’s great about this is that you can use the power of Excel in real time. Both you and the student can edit the spreadsheet at the same time. Standard Excel calculations and formulas are also available thus making it really close to using Microsoft Excel or other open source Excel tools.

The greatest benefit is that all the history gets saved so you can see the thought process of your students. Also, you can see what the other person is doing as Google highlights the cell which the other user(s) has selected or is editing.  

How to find students to teach online?

There is no easy answer to this. If there was, everybody would leave their jobs and teach online according to their comfort. However, there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of getting students. 

Make a great Profile

Many people who register at teacheron.com or in any website for that matter try to go through making their profile as quickly as possible. Some even put junk text if there is a minimum they are forced to write. 

This is a big mistake.

Students don't know you and they don't know how good you are. The only point of reference they have about you is your profile. To put it simply, If you make a bad profile, you will get bad (no) results. 

You should spend at least as much time in preparing your online profile as much you spend on writing a well-written resume as it can have the same impact on your life. 

Profile picture: Your profile picture should consist of a clear headshot in which you are smiling. Teaching is not dating but when students are looking at a stranger that they can trust, same subconscious kicks in. Do not put a random image of a God or a puppy, it would be a waste of time and space.

Share

People who succeed have certain traits. They think long term, love what they do, and like to share. One of the best things that you can do to succeed is to help others succeed. Forums are a great starting point to sharing. Find a forum where lots of students and tutors come, and help the students there, thereby building authority. You will gain respect as an expert and will get paid assignments over time. This is not an overnight kill. It requires patience and genuine willingness to help. But results can be stellar depending on your niche and expertise.

If you like the post and think it can be helpful to others, please let us know in the comments and share it using your preferred services below. This may as well be the start of your sharing mindset. You will not only help your friends, but you will also help yourself and me as well.

Please mention in the comments if you have any question. Happy Tutoring!!


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