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This content is taken from the Cambridge Assessment English's online course, Teaching English Online: China and Beyond. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds You can use a whole range of digital tools in addition to the platform that you’re using. You can use tools to help you manage what you’re doing in the class. If you’re talking about one-to-one lessons, especially, then that’s probably really important. Because in a one-to-one lesson, there is the potential for your lesson to go in any direction. You may decide to focus on a specific grammar point or you may decide to do a little bit more speaking practise or something like that. Teaching online, I think, lends itself to having the student do a task. Because if the student has prepared a task and delivers it during the session, then you’ve got lots that you can feedback on.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds You can use tools that help you to explain the grammar. So if you have the grammar function turned on, or just open, on your computer, so you can refer to grammar explanations. I’ll give you examples, as well. So while you’re actually teaching and having a conversation, you can see the examples and you don’t have to think of them while you’re speaking. So before the session, they get ready, they plan. For example, a talk about their favourite sport or maybe they make a poster with images from their hobbies. So, depending what they’ve made, there are different ways to display it.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds So you might find that you can SlideShare or you can share screens, or you can use things like Google Docs so that they can show you something they’ve written or prepared. Or you can ask your student to make a video and send it to you. You may have a platform where you have the connection with you and the learner. But then that’s not accessible after the lesson. So you might choose something which is a notice board or some kind of place– or documented, even, where you can write notes, where the learner or learners can collaborate with you on the notes. And then that document or that board is open to them after the classroom, as well.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 second So that they have a document, they have a record of what’s happened, or they can see ideas and examples of language. And then they can go back and use those as a stimulus and you might then use that to set homework or the next learning task, as well. When you’re teaching an online session, you have certain tools you’ll use during the session, but there’s loads of tools you can use before and after. So if you want students to do lots of controlled practise, there’s really nice grammar, vocabulary activities, things like Memrise, Quizlet, Flashcard, games, activities.

Skip to 2 minutes and 35 seconds That’s a really good thing to give for your student to do outside the session, so that they can revise and work on something they’ve done in the lesson. So The Digital Teacher is a site where you can go, it’s a free site. You can access it and you can find reviews of tools that– Cambridge Assessment English, think are good for language teaching, but then you still have to read that review and understand how you can use that tool and think about how that would apply to your context.

Other digital tools and resources

In Step 1.6, we talked about the equipment an online teacher needs and the resources an online teacher can use, such as puppets and realia. In this step, we’re going to introduce you to some digital tools that help to make digital lessons more successful.


In the video Helen and Mary talk about some digital tools and some ways they can be used in online teaching. Watch the video and make notes about what they say the tools can be used for.

Teacher Tool Use
Helen A grammar reference tool (e.g. Cambridge Online Dictionary Grammar)  
Mary Screen or slide sharing  
Mary Google Docs  
Helen An online noticeboard  
Mary Memrise, Quizlet and other games/activities  
Please note down your answers on a piece of paper

Check your answers

Adding a whiteboard

Digital tools and resources aren’t obligatory in online lessons but some teachers find them useful and learners enjoy using them. One such tool is a whiteboard. You’ll remember from your research in the previous step that Zoom and WebRoom have an in-built whiteboard so you don’t need to use a separate tool if you are using these platforms. If, however, you use a platform which doesn’t have its own whiteboard (e.g. Skype), you might want to add one.

Miro is an interactive whiteboard tool that teachers can use in live online lessons. The free version offers three editable boards which you can share with students so that you and they can see what’s written there. If you’re interested in using this tool, go to Miro’s Help Center to find out how to use it.

Reflect and share

How can teachers and students use an interactive whiteboard in an online lesson? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching English Online: China and Beyond

Cambridge Assessment English