Having a good workspace is not only crucial in the modern workplace, but also for students adjusting to e-learning. Students as young as Kindergarten are now tasked with sitting in front of a computer screen for 4-6 hours a day, while trying to learn on a small laptop that they may or may not have ever used before. Older students may have less visible challenges than younger ones, but I assure you a proper workspace is crucial for the best learning experience for all ages.
To make this school year the best it can be, here are five tips to enhance your kid’s e-learning experience.
1. Designated workspace: Having a good designated workspace is important in all aspects of e-learning. Any place that is well lit, has a good desk/table, flexible seating and is limited to distractions will help enhance the e-learning experience.
Quick Tip: If finding a good place is challenging due to limitations, I recommend purchasing noise cancelling headphones so that distractions around them can be silenced and students can focus on the teacher and their classmates, rather than other things going on around them.
2. External Monitor: Ensuring your kids are not staring at a small laptop or tablet can make a huge difference while teachers are trying to teach a lesson, especially when you have your classmates’ videos present on the same screen as speaker participants constantly change. Imagine trying to conduct business all day long with a 12 inch screen, it is exhausting as it sounds...AND is impacting the students' experience tremendously.
Quick Tip: If purchasing an external monitor is not an option due to being a high ticket option, you can extend your laptop to a television at your house based on the connections available (HDMI/USB/VGA). Also, change your “gallery view” in your video platform to make sure you don’t see every participant all the time and limit it to the speaker only.
3. External Camera: If you are using an external monitor, I recommend getting a camera with a built in speaker so that you can close your laptop and not have to worry about it interfering with your lessons for the day. A good external camera with built in HD can be purchased for $25-$100 depending on how much you want to spend.
Quick Tip: Lighting is very important when using a camera and an external camera can easily adjust to the surroundings as they may vary at different points of the day. Lastly, always make sure your laptop or external camera is covered when you are done for added privacy.
4. Wireless keyboard/mouse: This is a game changer in a couple ways. First, have you tried using the touchpad on a laptop? Now, imagine using it all day for the next 9 months. Second, using a mouse will not only make a student's life better, but easier to do simple tasks like clicking on a hyperlink or just maneuvering through webpages or applications in use. Logitech makes a great wireless keyboard and mouse combo that uses the same USB unifying receiver instead of buying the keyboard and mouse separately. (Need two usb receivers if you buy separately)
5. Additional Adapters: This depends on the computer used for learning, but most likely if you are choosing to use all these tools to enhance your students learning mentioned above, you will need additional connectors to accommodate multiple USBs or Type C ports as you will notice your laptop will not be able to accommodate all of them. You can easily purchase additional connectors on-line or in a computer store to fill the technology needed. (Example: Type C to USB adapter or Type C to VGA adapter as seen in the picture)
In conclusion, I tested my five tips on my 7 year old who is currently doing e-learning and he told me that using a bigger monitor, the external mouse and keyboard were game changers for him to make his day better and flow a lot easier. The first couple weeks of watching him use his HP Chromebook made me realize why he disliked this new learning experience. These little things can help impact the day-to-day challenges that we all are experiencing and these tools can be used for many years to come. These five tips changed my son’s experience, completely.