How to set up a ring light for remote teaching is an important task to look into, so well done for getting here. As you likely know, proper lighting can be the difference between a clear and well-delivered online class and a shadowy mess that distracts students from what's important.
With good lighting, even a poorer webcam will still deliver a quality image of what you need your students to see. This can open the doorway to more expressive communication, deeper sharing, and – crucially – more effective learning as an outcome.
Set up is important as you'll need to factor in light distance, brightness, and color as well as mounting options, power supplies, and compatibility. From using your smartphone or a tablet to hooking up with a laptop or dedicated webcam, each will require a different approach at setup.
Here's everything you need to know about how to set up a ring light for remote teaching.
Pick the best ring light
First you'll need to decide which is the best ring light for teaching (opens in new tab) that suits you. From massive 20-inch powerful lights to portable clip-on light rings, there are plenty of options.
A few things to consider here are size, portability, brightness, settings, and power. If you want to be able to move between rooms, perhaps go for a battery and mains option. If you're hoping to teach experiments, then a larger light that covers more of the room is best.
The device you're going to use is also a consideration. A small ring light might work well for your smartphone to sit in the middle but if you want to do the same with a tablet or laptop you may need to think bigger.
It's also worth keeping in mind if you need just a ring light or a webcam as well. A few good webcams that come with the ring light built-in are available--a potential savings while upgrading both the camera and the light at once, for the best end result.
Decide where you ring light will go
Is your ring light going to be set up in one place? If this is your designated teaching space and will you always remain here, then a larger or more permanent installation is possible. You could go for mains power, perhaps desk or wall mount the light, and leave it always plugged in there.
If you plan to move between rooms and perhaps show off examples to the class, then you may need something more mobile. A battery-powered light on a moveable tripod could be better. Or perhaps a clip-on ring light that attaches to your smartphone so you can be truly mobile.
Get the distancing correct
Depending on the power of the light you go for, you will need to space yourself correctly. Too close and you could end up an over exposed sheet of white light. Too far away and you're back into the territory of having an image that's too shadowy.
For this reason it's good not only to test the light but also to make sure you go for one that can either be moved or has multiple power level settings. The latter is ideal to give you flexibility if you don't always have a suitable spot to place the light and it needs to be different lengths away depending on where you set it up.
Consider the light color
Many ring lights come with settings to adjust the color of the light, or the warmth. This can be from the yellow end of the spectrum right up to brilliant, pure white light. This color variation is important in finding the right adjustment to the ambient light in the room you're in. Some will need a warmer light and others a sharper light to cut through what's already there.
Another option is for colorful lighting; some LEDs offer this. However, unless you plan to integrate that color into the lesson somehow, this could end up being more of a distraction than anything. That said, adding some colorful lighting into your background is always advisable to give texture and a more engaging on-screen presence for students on which to focus.
Think about the mount
A ring light is great but without the right mount you could be stuck leaning it against the wall or a stack of books to angle it right. Many ring lights come with, or at least work with, a tripod or some sort of clip. Make sure to check yours either comes with something or can work with one that you have or can get.
Some ring lights come with the clip as part of the build. In these cases it's always preferable to also have a tripod adapter built-in so you have the option to use that in the future. This gives you freedom of movement to find the best possible angle and to change that in future should you need to move room.