Getting hired to work from my home office teaching was a dream come true! I was very excited to try this new career path, but as soon as I started to equip my home-based classroom, I became overwhelmed. I wanted the “best” equipment available in order to do the “best” job in my new career. But, what did that mean? What was the best? “Best” is such a subjective term, and I found in my polling of other tutors, the answers can be vast and varied. So, now that you’re starting out, you may be thinking, “I want the best, too!” But, what is the best headset for online teachers? What’s the best computer? What’s the best operating system and system configuration needed to deliver an optimal online learning experience? Today, we’ll start with the best headsets for online teachers.
You may have the fastest internet speed available and the coolest, newest laptop on the market, but if your headset is lacking in sound quality, comfort, or general usability, then it’s all for naught when working in the online classroom. One could argue that a good quality headset is one of the single, most important pieces of equipment in the ESL teacher’s office, and the options are endless! Gaming headsets, computer headsets, Bluetooth headsets, USB headsets, wireless headsets, monaural headsets… so many headsets! So, which one should you get?
What should you consider when looking for the best headsets for online teachers?
Audio Quality: How does the student sound to you? How do you sound to the student? Many times we are faced with the dilemma of bad sound in the online classroom, either on our end or the students’. It can be incredibly frustrating for all involved, and it greatly diminishes the effectiveness of that lesson. Purchase a headset that has an adjustable volume control externally (in addition to the computer controls) and a noise-canceling microphone. These two inexpensive features, available on most stereo headsets, will significantly improve the sound quality in the classroom by allowing you to control the volume in multiple ways while sealing out the ambient noise from your home office.
Microphone Quality: While very similar to audio quality, microphone quality speaks directly to your ability to decrease the level of ambient noise in your online classroom. Have you ever been in a class and the student’s background was very noisy and distracting to you, the educator? Imagine how the students may feel when they have to strain to hear you above your neighbor’s barking dog, or the garbage truck thumping down the street. A noise-canceling headset is paramount when teaching ESL online. You’ll also want to be able to MUTE yourself from both the headset and computer if necessary. A mute option is available on most commercially available headsets.
Wireless Option: This is one whose importance will vary from tutor to tutor. The best headsets for online teachers are often considered wireless. Why? Because it allows for so much TPR! Wireless headphones allow unlimited freedom to act out scenes and use big gestures to help teach a new concept. The wireless headset works well in both sitting and standing classrooms, and they’re stylish, too! Most of today’s models use Bluetooth technology to directly connect to your computer, which is nice and easy. Unfortunately, wireless headsets need to charge occasionally (you’ll want to check the battery and standby life of your wireless headset before purchase), and that is another chore the online ESL teacher must attend to stay fully prepared to teach every day. You certainly wouldn’t want your headset to die mid-class! Despite the downsides, the wireless headset does allow freedom in teaching that is unparalleled when compared to its wired USB and AUX brothers.
The top-rated wireless headsets are:
LOW-COST OPTION (Less than $50):
MPOW H8 Active Noise-Canceling Bluetooth Headphones
HIGH-COST OPTION (over $100):
Sennheiser MB Pro 2 UC
Perhaps you don’t want wireless. Maybe you’re interested in a wired option. That’s fine, too.
Wired Option: There are many, cost-effective, high quality wired options as well. That’s right. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a good quality headset. Wired models offer excellent options including noise canceling, mute, adjustable volume, and usually flexible microphones that allow you to change how you wear the headset for comfort. And, one of the critical things to consider when purchasing the best headset for online teaching is COMFORT. You will be teaching multiple classes per day! You will want to ensure you’re comfortable for the duration. This will lead to greater job satisfaction and higher quality teaching while in the online classroom. Seek a headset that is lightweight, with padded ears and a padded headband. Lifewire has an excellent guide available to reference when picking the most comfortable headset for yourself. It’s important to remember that you’ll want something that will not cause too much pressure on your head or your ears after a prolonged period.
The current best wired USB headsets for online teachers are:
LOW-COST OPTIONS (less than $25):
Logitech USB Headset H930 with Noise-Canceling Microphone
MPOW 071 USB Headset
Vtin Headset with Microphone
HIGH-COST OPTION (over $50):
No matter your budget or experience, having a good headset is a vital and attainable piece of equipment for the online educator. So, what are the best headsets for online teachers? Only you will know what works best for you! Go to your local electronics or music store and try a few options. Do you prefer mono (one ear) or stereo (two ears)? Will you go wireless or wired? The possibilities are endless, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. Choose what’s important to you in a good headset and go from there. See you in the online classroom. Or rather, hear from you soon!
Header Photo: By Rahu on Pixabay
Photo 1: By Free-photos on Pixabay
Gabriel Cunningham, a New York native, is a former pediatric nurse with over 15 years in the healthcare industry, working with hundreds of critically ill babies and children. She and her husband are therapeutic foster parents who, together have cared for numerous medically fragile children in their home until they were ready to reunite with their families. In 2017 Gabriel, also known as Gabby, formally transitioned into online education after over nine years homeschooling her five children from preschool through high school and four years directing her church’s homeschool co-op. She is well-known in her community for her activism in homelessness prevention, youth trauma intervention, and family crisis prevention. Gabby has an AS from Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY and is currently pursuing her Special Education K-12/Elementary Education degree at Western Governors University.
In her spare time, Gabby enjoys reading, cooking, volunteering at church, and providing pro bono doula services to the underserved young mothers in her community. Gabby believes that service to the community is the greatest form of love.