How I Updated My Home Office Spaces & Technology for Teaching

home office
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Like many educators, I have worked from home for years. I usually grade, read, and research in various spaces around my house, and it was long overdue for some updating. This year was also an ideal time to upgrade some technology at home too. Summer proved to be a great season to do so and, as autumn ends, I am especially grateful to have undertaken these tasks. 

The pandemic has certainly made many of us rely more on our home offices. A number of articles highlight the importance of designated home office spaces. Teaching and meeting remotely forced me to be cognizant of lighting and backdrops around my desk. I have cedar walls where I arrange pictures, plaques, and awards as my background. Lighting in my home office can be challenging because of dark wood and shifting sunshine throughout the day. Afternoon is prime for natural light, but by sunset, I have to brighten my desk lighting. 

I recently purchased a webcam ring light on for my home office laptop, which significantly helped with background lighting. In fact, I purchased two so I could have one for my campus office when I teach or meet online since I have a whiteboard behind my chair. Most webcam lights range from $16 to $80. 

Some of my colleagues also use professional headphones and microphones for classes, meetings, and media recordings. I may need earbuds from time to time, especially for television and radio shows when I’m asked to serve as a guest discussing state and local issues. A variety of listening and speaking devices as well as additional tech items can be worthwhile investments.  

Home Office Update: Technology Upgrade 

Aside from desk gadgets, my iPhone 8 Plus was overdue for an update especially since I live on the Connecticut shoreline and phone service can be notoriously spotty. New iPhones, such as my recently purchased iPhone SE, include features to operate calls over WiFi so there are virtually no dropped calls. Beyond that, I need to have a consistent connection for live media programs.  

My Apple iPad Mini was also overdue for an upgrade as I had a second-generation model so I purchased a refurbished 5th generation model. Many technology sites, including Amazon, offer affordable tablet options. Having improved battery life and updated software makes an impactful difference. A newer iPad is especially helpful for reviewing manuscripts and journal articles, and I read a number of them in the last six months with the newer tablet.  

What, When and How to Update and Upgrade 

  • Upgrade home tech items such as computers, tablets, and printers 
  • Consider additional tech accessories such as ring lights, headphones, microphones 
  • Lounge chair and desk item updates inspire work spaces at home 
  • Holiday or end-of-year sales can help with timing of purchases  

Finally, this summer I purchased some outdoor furniture including a couple of lounge chairs and a hammock for my outside deck as there were already hooks for it. Usually there are mid-summer sales on patio furniture. These items were a must for reading, as I tend to do so much more of it outside as I live in a small but cozy cottage. Surprisingly, a hammock is relaxing while you read, and I found myself more connected to researching and working on my updated iPad Mini. 

Having a designated desk or office area can be extremely helpful for working from home. But creating reading spaces can be just as impactful. I’ll often grade or read on my comfortable living room couch. With new deck lounge chairs and a hammock, I’m more at ease to do work away from campus.

After another summer of working from home, I learned that creating and updating workspaces make a difference. At the same time, having newer devices can be just as helpful. Now that it’s almost winter, I’m grateful to have had a fruitful summer of reading, writing, and researching from home. My only regret is that I should have done these upgrades and updates sooner. 

Jonathan L. Wharton, Ph.D. is the School of Graduate and Professional Studies Associate Dean and teaches political science at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. He is also a frequent contributor on WNPR and CT News Junkie columnist.