6 Tips for Parents to Improve and Troubleshoot Remote Learning
If you’re managing school-age kids in the house while also juggling working from home, then you’ve likely experienced some tech-related meltdowns. Maybe the Wi-Fi went out and everyone’s meetings froze. Or your child’s outdated laptop is buggy and can’t open their online classroom tools until the platform update is complete. Here are some basic tips for improving and troubleshooting the remote learning experience – for everyone!
1. Learn the basics about the various learning platforms.
If you need to consistently help your kids with distance learning, then you want to gain some familiarity with the online learning programs that your child uses the most. Take some time to look at one of their Google Classrooms or Canvas classes to understand how to navigate throughout lesson plans and other features. For context, both platforms are widely used classroom tools, each with their own benefits and features.
If your kid mentions using “Clever,” it’s a portal that unifies various tools by acting as a single sign-on for everyone in a school district. If you can develop a baseline of knowledge about all these platforms and how your child uses them, you can avoid a lot of eye rolling and arguments when your child needs help. Learning more about these platforms takes time on the front-end but will pay off when it’s “Defcon 5” inside your house.
2. Zoom Properly
Encourage your kids to play around with the Zoom interface so they’re comfortable with the various settings. Also get your kids in the habit of removing distractions while they are participating in video classes. That means taking away their phones or tablets, getting your “quarantine puppy” out of the room, and getting your kids to keep a clean workspace. In between Zoom calls, during the “passing period,” get your kids to do ten jumping jacks or to scooter outside for a few minutes to engage their body and reactivate their mind.
Also talk to your kids about leaving their video turned on while participating in their lessons, at least some of the time. Stories abound of teachers becoming increasingly distraught over conducting video calls with 25 kids and none of them have their video turned on.
3. Buy Some Quality Headphones
Video classes are much easier to hear with a quality pair of headphones with a built-in microphone. There are hundreds of options available, so pick a well-reviewed pair with an adjustable headband and large comfy ear cups to improve your child’s video calls. Pick a noise canceling pair so your kids have a way to muffle outside noises when they’re working through algebra.
4. Use Your Phone as a Hotspot
If you’re talking to 40 people on a work video conference and your three kids are doing video classes with their teachers, then you’re pulling a lot of bandwidth. Even if you pay for upgraded internet, there’s only so much connectivity you can get through your provider. An alternative is to turn you and your kids’ phones into mobile hotspots. Many cell providers include hotspot service with your plan, so check first before using. Setup the hotspot as a backup Wi-Fi connection, so if your main home router is overused, they at least have a secondary option and will only miss a minute or two of their lesson. Also, use a password for the hotspots to keep your nosy neighbors from using your signal for free.
5. Protect Your Electronics Investments
Count the number of tech devices in your house. And then calculate a rough estimate of their combined value. After you recover from the shock of realizing you have several thousand dollars’ worth of electronic stuff, take some steps to better protect your devices. Consider using a home tech protection plan like the one offered by Asurion Home+ that covers nearly all of your home tech for a monthly fee. The plan isn’t just for device breakdowns or malfunctions — you also gain access to 24/7 tech support with Asurion’s 10,000 tech experts. So, if your new router is tough to set up, or your son’s laptop is ridiculously laggy, then you have someone to reach out to for help.
6. Extend and Improve your Range
A network extender is a great inexpensive item that can expand your router’s Wi-Fi range. Greater range allows your kids to work in the backyard or in other rooms in the house that are better suited to learning but were previously hampered by poor connectivity.
Another tip is to turn off other devices or hop them off the Wi-Fi while you and the kids are doing video calls or trying to complete assignments. If you have an unlimited data plan, then it’s okay to move some phones and tablets away from Wi-Fi so you can free up a considerable amount of bandwidth.
For some localities, remote learning is here to stay for the foreseeable future. It’s not ideal, but parents can take proactive steps to make it more bearable by improving connectivity and using the latest technology.
Marvin Maldonado is a tech expert with Asurion and Asurion Home+. He brings a passion for research and development of new technologies and educating others on them.
Looking for ways to keep your kids safe online? Check out A Complete Guide to Potentially Dangerous Apps All Parents Should Be Aware Of.