While distance learning has always existed, it’s never been more prevalent than it is today. Students and teachers are connecting and learning over the internet like never before, which begs the question, “How do we make distance learning a better experience for everyone?”
In short, it all comes down to communication—and that’s where a good webcam can make a big difference. Both teachers and students rely on visual cues to communicate effectively, and webcams make that possible even if teachers and students can’t be in the classroom together.
But not all webcams are created equal. In this guide, we’ll answer some common questions about using webcams for distance learning and help you find the webcam that’s best for you.
WHY DO I NEED A WEBCAM FOR ONLINE CLASSES?
When students can see their teachers, it makes the learning experience more engaging, and it can help keep them from zoning out or falling asleep. And for teachers, the ability to read the virtual classroom and gauge whether their students are paying attention and understanding the lesson is critical.
Visual communication is also a way to prevent truancy, because it ensures that your class actually watches you teach. Most high schools and many college classes have attendance policies, and a webcam feed can prove that a student actually attends class rather than logging in and walking off to play Animal Crossing.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH MY BUILT-IN WEBCAM?
The biggest difference between built-in webcams and USB webcams is the video quality. Built-in webcams are fine in a pinch, but they often sacrifice quality components in order to fit everything inside the laptop. USB webcams offer higher-quality lenses, auto-focusing capability, low light correction and other useful features.
USB webcams are compact and highly portable, making them easy to position wherever you need them. For example, if you have your laptop on your lap or sitting on a desk, the built-in webcam is basically looking up your nose, which isn’t the most flattering angle for anyone. With a USB webcam, you can adjust the placement so you always look your best.
Built-in webcams are also more likely to scratch and break, especially if they’re connected to a laptop that you take everywhere. Plus, you can’t replace them without sending your laptop to a repair service. USB webcams are easier to replace and upgrade as technology improves or as your budget grows.
If you already have a standalone camera, you may be able to use it for online teaching. However, using a smartphone, DSLR camera or GoPro as a webcam isn’t as simple as plugging it in. You’ll likely need special cables and mounts, and you’ll need to make sure the cameras are charged and properly connected.
Logitech webcams combine HD video quality with versatile feautures and unparallled ease of use.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A WEBCAM
A quick search for USB webcams will turn up countless results, making it daunting to choose the right one for your needs (especially if you’ve never bought one before). Here are some things to look for when choosing a webcam for remote learning.
In regards to video quality, you’ll see two numbers: the resolution and the frames-per-second (FPS) rate:
- Resolution: think of this as the sharpness of the image. The higher the resolution, the sharper and more true-to-life an image is. We recommend a resolution of 1080p or more, but 720p is the bare minimum.
- FPS: the number of frames per second dictates the smoothness of movement. We recommend webcams capable of at least 30 FPS, but 60 FPS will look even smoother and more natural.
Ease Of Use
One of the reasons we don’t recommend using your phone or built-in camera as a webcam is the ease of use factor. Any additional setup can lead to frustration and more opportunities for things to go wrong.
By contrast, external USB webcams are easy to set up. Most computers and programs will automatically recognize a USB webcam, so all you have to do is plug it in. In the rare case your program doesn’t recognize your new webcam, you can select your webcam as the video source when logging into your virtual classroom.
Low Light Correction
Unless you already have a photography or videography studio in your home, you probably don’t have the most ideal lighting setup. Unless you want to purchase a lighting rig as well, look for a webcam that offers low light correction so you’ll look your best in any lighting situation.
BEST WEBCAM FOR ONLINE CLASSES OVERALL: LOGITECH STREAMCAM
Boasting high-end 1080p HD streaming quality at 60 FPS, the Logitech StreamCam has everything any teacher or student could want in a webcam for $169.
StreamCam connects via USB Type-C for lightning-fast video transfer speeds, so you’ll never find yourself lagging during lessons. Plus, its flexible mounting system means you get to control how you’re seen by others. And, it’s compatible with both Windows® and Mac® operating systems.
Logitech Capture, a free software add-on, gives users even more control over their webcam, including features that automate exposure, framing, stabilization and more. You can even enable multi-source recording, so you can record from two webcams (e.g., one webcam focused on you and another showing a visual aid) and quickly combine them into a scene.
Vertical video capture is another compelling feature on the Logitech StreamCam, especially for students. Trust us when we say it’s perfect for TikTok videos and Instagram stories.
BEST WEBCAMS FOR STUDENTS
Different students are going to have different needs and budgets. Since everything from course schedules to workloads can vary, high schoolers and college students may need different webcams depending on their unique needs.
Best College Webcam: Logitech C930e Business Webcam
College students need a mix of affordability and quality, especially those who are about to enter the working world. A quality webcam is something that they can grow with, and that’s where the Logitech C930E Business Webcam comes in.
Priced at $129.99, the C930E offers 1080p HD quality at 30 FPS, ensuring those non-verbal cues won’t go unseen. It’s also ideal for group projects or meetings, featuring a 90-degree field of view, pan and tilt capabilities, and 4x digital zoom for capturing groups around a table.
This webcam means business—seriously. The C930E is certified for business use, so you can take it with you on your professional career. Plus, it has flexible mounting and privacy options, making it a secure and versatile webcam you can use beyond your college days.
Best High School Webcam: Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam
While high schoolers don’t necessarily need a webcam that they can use in professional settings, they still need something reliable and high-quality. At just $79.99, the Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam is a solid choice for high school remote learning.
Full HD 1080p at 30 FPS and high portability make the C920 ideal for high schoolers. Its portability makes it great for those students who prefer to move around their room or the house while learning. And, when school’s over and the homework is done, high schoolers will love using it for their Twitch streams and remote get-togethers with friends!
BEST WEBCAM FOR ONLINE TEACHING: LOGITECH BRIO ULTRA HD PRO WEBCAM
Teachers need a high-performance webcam as part of their online teaching setup. After all, teachers are the focus of their digital classrooms, and students rely on seeing them during lessons to pick up visual cues, read hand-written notes and diagrams, and more.
When it comes to webcams, it doesn’t get much more high-def than the Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro Webcam. With 4K ultra high-definition resolution, your students will feel like they’re in the room with you.
At just $199, the Brio Ultra HD Pro Webcam offers a spectacular feature set for its class. Improved low light performance with RightLight™ 3 and high dynamic range (HDR) technology keep you in focus no matter what. It also boasts 5x digital zoom, an adjustable field of view and customizable camera settings including pan, zoom and image controls.
Secure facial recognition for Windows Hello and mounting and privacy options via a removable shade are added convenience and safety measures, so you’re only on camera when you want to be.
BEST BUDGET WEBCAM FOR ONLINE CLASSES: LOGITECH C270 HD WEBCAM
If you just need a basic webcam for the classroom, the Logitech C270 HD Webcam can cover your needs for just $39. With widescreen 720p resolution and 30 FPS, the C270 delivers clear, natural video. It also offers automatic light correction and flexible mounting options, all in a compact and portable form factor.
HOW DO I SET UP MY WEBCAM?
Setting up a USB webcam is as easy as plug and play. Simply plug your webcam into an open USB port on your computer and start up your remote learning software. If your computer has a built-in webcam, go to the settings or preferences menu in your remote learning software and find the camera settings. You should see your webcam in your list of available devices.
You can also set your USB webcam as your default camera if you have a Windows computer. That way, whether you open Zoom or Twitch, your computer will automatically default to your USB webcam rather than your built-in camera.
Setting A New Default Webcam In Windows 10
- Plug in your new webcam
- Press the Windows key and “X” at the same time.
- Select “Control Panel”
- Click on “Devices and Printers”
- Right click on your new webcam
- Click “Set this device as default”
Setting A New Default Webcam On A Mac
Unfortunately, you can’t set a default webcam on an Apple computer. Each program has its own default settings, so you’ll want to update default preferences in each program.
Ready for your close up? Shop Logitech webcams today.