More Tips and Tools for Online Instruction

May 19, 2020 | Posted by Jennifer


Last year, we published two posts dedicated to the topic of tutoring online, something that many IEW instructors do each week. The posts discussed a variety of helpful tools to use while preparing and presenting classes online. If you teach online, we hope today’s post might offer a few more possible tools for you to consider. While they may or may not be useful in your particular situation, adding the following information to the lists in our previous posts gives you plenty of possibilities to investigate. Hopefully you’ll find a new idea that will enhance your online instruction.

  • Miro Boards: Miro Boards are interactive whiteboards. They are often touted as great tools for work teams’ collaboration, but they are also very useful in online tutoring. They are incredibly flexible and especially useful for creating and playing games with your students. You can get three boards with a free account, and so far that has worked well for me.
  • Loom: If you are prerecording classes, this is a fabulous solution. Loom allows you to shoot video either of yourself, your computer screen, or your computer screen with a small image of yourself in a bubble in the corner of the video. You get a link to the recording immediately, which you can then share in a number of different ways. I rarely teach using a recorded class, but I do use Loom to send my students video reminders about things they need to know or do.
  • USB Pen Tablet: This is the newest addition to my repertoire of online tools. One of the challenges of teaching writing online is creating the key word outline in an efficient and legible way. It feels awkward to write with a mouse, and typing the outline presents the challenge of drawing symbols. This tool, essentially a mouse driven by a stylus and tablet, makes it easy to create a key word outline that everyone can read on the computer. As a left-handed writer and a right-handed “mouser,” my mouse writing was pretty abysmal and painfully slow. Now I can write clearly and quickly using this tablet. Best of all, it is very affordable with many varieties on the market.
  • USB Hub: With all of the equipment I use, I found I needed more USB ports than my computer provided. No worries! I just bought a USB hub. It allows me to connect everything I need in order to teach remotely.
  • Google Classroom: While I did mention this fabulous tool in my original post, I wanted to let you know that Google Classroom also provides a great way to post and track grades. I use it for all of my classes. You should know that each student will need his or her own email account. 
  • Boom Mic: I have personally found it helpful to wear a boom mic when I’m teaching online. Available in a wide range of prices, there are many options to select from. I think you can get by just fine with a reasonably priced mic. 
  • Document Camera: For creating key word outlines, you can’t beat a document camera. This device is even easier to use than a pen tablet because it allows you to continue working with paper and pen, operating similarly to an overhead projector or smartboard. The camera projects the image onto your computer, allowing you to then share your screen with your students.

I hope these tips and tools will help you as you continue to provide quality online instruction to your students. For many of you, this may be a new adventure. As a longtime online instructor, I hope to encourage you. You can do it! You will learn as you go; I know I certainly did. And through your efforts, your students will learn as well. You don’t need to be perfect and polished. Be prepared to laugh at the inevitable hiccoughs along the way. Your students will appreciate it. Laughter is contagious and good medicine to boot.


Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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