Remote Learning 2020: Technology: Buying Advice

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Please note: This is NOT official school advice – just some hopefully helpful advice from the ICT teacher. As with all advice consider it, but make your own decisions.

If your child/children are using a computer without a webcam talk to them about their need of one.
There is the possibility of video calls augmenting the learning experience especially due to the projected length of time remote learning may be necessary.
However, video calls can be made on another device e.g. a phone or tablet.

If you do wish to purchase a webcam this is a ‘recommendation’. I have used one of these a lot for work and it has remained reliable when others have failed:

Headphones are for listening only, headsets are headphones with a microphone which can be used for internet calls.
Most laptops have microphones built in, but usually do not work well.
Headsets (for desktop PCs – or laptops with separate mic/headphone jacks) are available from school.

If you have a ‘gamer’ in your family you may well have a headset that you can re-use!

Again we don’t quite know how often we will need to use these

Personally (spending most of my day on a headset sometimes!) I would recommend a headset with two ear speakers. Sometimes you can get a weird effect in the ear without a speaker on single speaker sets (or maybe that’s the sound echoing around inside my empty head!)
This is an example

Connecting a desktop PC to the internet:
(All laptops have built in wifi and most have a network socket as well which you can use if the wifi connection is unreliable)

This is the most reliable way to connect, but it requires a physical cable from your router/home hub/’internet box” to the computer.
These cables are not expensive – do not pay too much for them

Wires can actually be connected together to extend them using these:

If you are using a laptop you should be able to connect to wifi OK

If you are using a desktop (especially one from school) you will need to add a wifi dongle.
I have never used the examples below but they are reasonably priced and from named brands:

Internet connections:
If you are only considering having internet during this period of remote learning you find a ‘monthly’ contract more suitable than a 18/24 month lock-in, although the monthly costs will be dearer.

Landline based (i.e. using your home phone line):
There are a multitude of options and opinions so ask around.
Ones to look at are perhaps and

4G based: (i.e. a sim card in a router – works like a mobile phone)
Again a multitude of options so ask around and remember you will need to have good mobile coverage at your home for whatever company you choose
I’ve had good feedback for this package from Three:

Mobile phone hotspot:
Some contracts have terms and conditions that forbid this usage (even though your phone will let you).
Wifi range is quite limited (you will need the phone in the same room as the computer)
If you have a ‘low’ data allowance you may find this is used up quickly.

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