Every student and online tutor has contrasting needs from a pen tablet. Still, there are a few key things to look for when on the hunt for the best pen tablet for online tutoring. Below, we’ll outline what to look for in a pen tablet for online tutoring.
What To Look For In A Pen Tablet For Online Tutoring
1. Pressure Sensitivity
Pen tablets are not one-size-fits-all when it comes to pen sensitivity. You may be asking, “Why does sensitivity even matter?” Well, it matters in terms of accuracy, pressure, and the overall thickness of the lines. Generally, pen tablets can have a wide range in terms of sensitivity. They can start at 300 and go all the way up to 3,000, though you likely won’t require one that high. A higher pressure level allows students to make more significant distinctions in the line thickness. This is key for accurate notes, handwriting, and drawings. Strive for a sensitivity of at least 1,024 pressure.
Let’s look at this video that explains how to improve your handwriting when using a pen tablet for online teaching.
Another thing to consider when seeking the best pen tablet for online tutoring is the overall responsiveness. In general, you want lines or letters to show up on the screen instantaneously. Responsiveness is the quickness in which what you’re writing or drawing shows up on the screen. Aim for a pen tablet that is rated as being highly responsive. While some responsiveness has more to do with your laptop than the tablet itself, it is important to keep tablet software in mind.
3. Tablet Size
When looking for the best pen tablet for online tutoring, always keep tablet size in mind. When determining which size you need, think about what you or your student will be doing with the tablet. Do they need a larger workspace for working out equations or drawing? Are they in elementary school and only require minimum workspace? Always check the active area of the tablet to ensure you’re getting enough workspace. A larger active area allows students to work on larger items without having to zoom in and out.
4. Type of Stylus
In general, a pen tablet will come equipped with one of three stylus types: rechargeable, battery-operated, or EMR. Battery styluses tend to be the thickest of the bunch, making them feel big in smaller hands. That’s not ideal for smaller students or those in elementary school. Additionally, you will have to replace the batteries often.
Rechargeable styluses are slimmer, but they will need to be charged nightly, just like your phone. They do fit comfortably in hand and work well for any grade level or hand size. Finally, you have EMR stylus options. These use an electromagnetic frequency that transfers power from the tablet directly to the pen through a wireless connection. No charging or clunky batteries are involved.
5. HD-Video Conferencing Compatibility
Finally, when it comes to the best pen tablet for online tutoring, you need to make sure that the tablet you choose is compatible with whiteboard apps on platforms for online tutoring via Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or other apps. Without compatibility, students and tutors will not be able to communicate on these platforms via the tablet, which makes the whole thing dead in the water. Keep in mind; most mid-range tablets will offer compatibility on these platforms, especially since online learning has become so commonplace in this new normal.
6. Display and Non-Display Tablets
One final thing we want to touch upon is whether or not your online tutoring will require a display or non-display tablet. Let’s break down both.
Display tablets look kind of like an iPad or traditional tablet in that you can see what you’re doing right on the tablet screen. This can be easier for beginners as they don’t have to glance between the computer and the tablet to see what they’re doing. Drawing and writing are the same on display tablets, but you can see the pencil and paper right on the screen. Unfortunately, these tend to be far more expensive than the non-display tablets we recommend here.
Non-Display tablets do not allow you to see what you’re doing on the tablet screen. The tablet’s surface is black, and your input on the tablet shows up on the screen. There is a slight learning curve with these tablets, but most students and tutors get the hang of using a general pen tablet in under an hour. These tablets are very durable and in them for the long haul. They’re great for younger kids because they can stand up to the rigors of elementary students with ease. They also tend to be less expensive.
Pen Tablet for Online Tutoring FAQ
Q: Is A Display Tablet Better For Young Students?
While a display tablet is probably more familiar to young students, the overall cost and lack of durability don’t make it ideal for any student who is in elementary school or those who don’t require a very high-powered tablet. Non-display tablets are more durable and work better for general tutoring or school use. They are easy to transport, affordable, and can take the abuse kids tend to offer up to electronic devices. While they may not offer the ability to see what’s happening on the screen, they are still powerful and straightforward to use.
Q: Do You Need A Pen Tablet For Online Tutoring?
While a pen tablet isn’t always a vital necessity, students and tutors find that these tablets can help make the transition from in-person learning easier. Not only do pen tablets allow for better communication and ideas to transfer from tutor to tutee, but they are great for struggling learners who need more than just a face behind a screen. Pen tablets bring a physical element of classroom learning back into the virtual space.
They provide a tactile experience that is more akin to what they would get in school. It also allows teachers and tutors to have an accurate barometer of where a student stands in many subjects, including math, English, science, and art. Pen tablets are an asset to online tutoring. You don’t necessarily need one, but you’ll find that having one makes the experience all the more enjoyable.