It’s been more than half a year since social distancing measures were put in place in different parts of the world. Most major cities are still in lockdown because of the coronavirus. A lot of countries still haven’t flattened the curve, and there isn’t a vaccine safe for public consumption just yet.
So you and your loved ones are bound to stay mostly at home for another half a year or so. This also means your child has no choice but to take their classes online.
The Upside to Online Classes
Online learning has a variety of benefits. The most obvious one is that your kid stays safely at home while getting the education they need. Online classes also provide flexibility, as some schools offer asynchronous learning — which means they don’t need real-time interaction with their teacher or instructor. They can access their modules and answer tests whenever it’s convenient for them.
However, online classes also have a variety of disadvantages. The lack of personal interaction with their teacher can make it difficult for students to focus. Plus, if you have an intermittent internet connection or slow devices, your kid is going to struggle even more.
Now that you have their requirements for senior high school or middle school, it’s time to get the necessary hardware and software to help them succeed. Schools often provide these for free or for a fee. But if they don’t, there are a variety of tools that make online learning much more convenient and productive.
Apart from the standard computer or smart device, there are other gadgets your kid may need to have a comfortable time during their classes.
• Noise-canceling headphones — With everyone in the family spending most of their time at home, there’s going to be a lot of noise and distractions everywhere, like the T.V., siblings bickering, the vacuum cleaner, and more. Even standard earphones can’t drown these distractions out. If you want your kid to be fully-focused on their Zoom class, have them use noise-canceling headphones like the affordable Plantronics Backbeat Go 810 or the Anker Soundcore Life Q20. Apart from filtering out environmental noise, these also offer crisp sound and wireless connectivity.
• Decent microphone and webcam — Video and audio clarity are also essential during online lessons. You don’t want your kid to miss out on their recitations because their mic is garbling or is straight-up malfunctioning. Plus, having a webcam with poor video quality may be detrimental when they have show and tell activities. You can find high-quality mics like the Shure MV5, Audio-Technica ATR 210x-USB, and Samson Meteor for under $100. As for the webcam, you can find ones that provide crisp-quality video like the Logitech HD C310 and Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 for well under $70.
• Ergonomic peripherals — Your kid is going to be on the computer for most of their day. Repetitive actions like typing on keyboards can lead to a variety of injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. Provide them with peripherals designed for ergonomics, like the Microsoft Sculpt keyboard and mouse. Their unique shapes allow the hand to rest in their natural positions, minimizing discomfort and pain after hours of use.
Computer programs and smart device applications can also upgrade your kid’s experience during their online learning sessions.
• Notetaking: Evernote and Google Keep — Just like in real classes, your kid will need a notebook for their online learning sessions. Evernote and Google Keep allow them to type down important points during their lectures. These apps automatically save everything to the cloud, so they don’t have to worry about misplacing their notes.
• Cloud storage: Dropbox and Google Drive — If your child has to download and upload documents for their online classes, they need to have a way to save their documents without worries of losing them. A corrupted hard drive, virus infection from exploits and vulnerabilities, or a sudden power outage can ruin hours of hard work. This is where cloud storage solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive come in. Dropbox’s free version offers 2 GB of storage, while Google Drive offers 15 GB free. All your kid has to do is drag and drop their important files into their Dropbox and Google Drive folders, and they can access and download them any time and anywhere.
• Writing tool: Grammarly — If your kid is old enough to write term papers, they’ll need someone or something to proofread what they do, no matter how good or talented they are at writing. Grammarly is a free tool that checks everything, from their grammar to the word count of each sentence. It’ll provide recommendations based on the errors or bad practices it sees. Its paid version even has a plagiarism checker that helps your kid cite their sources better.
Online learning is no longer a niche. It’s the new normal during this social distancing period. You need to equip your kid with the best tools possible to help them succeed in their online classes. These suggestions may help your child learn conveniently without you having to break the bank.