Tech for Back to School, Pandemic Style
No one saw this coming. Even when the Pandemic hit and decimated the end of the school season, no one expected it to stick around long enough to deliver chaos to the beginning of the back to school season. Yet here we are.
Shell-shocked parents and teachers are scrambling to figure out the safest way to make education happen. So far, the only answers are incomplete and imperfect. Even if you are prepared for in-person education, COVID might have other plans. Everyone needs to be prepared for remote learning. Here are the tools you need and a few ideas on how to get them:
A Computer with a Webcam
For students, nothing beats an all-in-one desktop computer. They are big and heavy with all the necessary components built in. They don’t break easily and tend to last for a long time. Apple just recently updated the iMac which is generally regarded as the best of the all-in-ones. Microsoft also has a Surface-branded all-in-one with a touchscreen. It also makes use of a stylus. Either choice is great for back to school when the classroom doubles as the dining room.
Unfortunately, these options are somewhat spendy. In COVID hotspot states like Texas, many are scrambling to find the finances for such purchases in an already decimated budget.
Whether you are looking for the best loans Raymondville TX. and surrounding area have to offer, or investigating ways to maximize your income tax refund, there are service providers who can help you get the money you need to navigate these unexpected educational expenses.
It is not enough to have a great computer with a competent webcam. Video needs lighting, and good lighting at that. Those 60 watt incandescent bulbs are probably not going to cut it.
Look into power-saving, long-lasting LED bulbs. You will also want floor lamps that can be adjusted and aimed to provide the light where it is most needed. You don’t want your child to be the only one in the meeting who appears as a dimly lit blob. Good light is the key to great video.
One more quick lighting tip that won’t cost you a penny: Be sure there is not a window or bright light directly behind your child. If you have no such place in your house that can accommodate a desktop, consider getting a laptop. That way, it can be moved anywhere in the house where the lighting is most favorable.
You do not have to pay an arm and a leg for a good smartphone these days. It need not be a $1,000 flagship phone. You can get into a new iPhone SE for $399. It has the most powerful processor of any smartphone today. For a little less, you can get the latest smartphone from Google.
While the classroom may be limited to the shared computer located in a public space in your home, your child’s social life cannot be. It is more important than ever for your child to have social connections with their peers.
Many schools will not be able to offer the usual outlets of sports, plays, band, and other extracurricular activities. We are asking them to give up a lot of those things that make for lasting memories. They need outlets for chatting, social gaming, and artistic endeavors. Those activities will be greatly curtailed if they are confined to the shared computer used by the whole family.
Conclusion: The New Normal
Don’t think of these suggestions as stop-gap measures until things get back to normal. We don’t know when that will be. It is better to think of the current reality as the new normal. Some part of your child’s education is likely going to be at home. They need a reliable computer as well as something more personal. Video communication is also a part of that new reality whether we like it or not.
If you have more than one child and they are at an age of responsibility, think about getting them their own laptop. Chromebooks are very inexpensive and can do almost everything they need for both work and play. For less money than you think, you can help ensure that your child does not fall into the technology gap.