Tech Talk: Equipment You Need For Your Online High School Lessons

Posted on April 05 2013

When you enroll in an online high school, the computer is your most important tool. It is important that even before you begin with the lessons, you have already set up your technological tools so that you won’t have any technical issues that can hamper your studies. With today’s innovations, you can enjoy the online school program’s functionalities without having to spend an arm and a leg.

Desktop, laptop, tablet or Smartphone? Smartphones and tablets allow you to be more mobile. If you’re the type that travels a lot, having a Smartphone or tablet with a Wi-Fi connection and any supported browser can help you make the most of your time (while waiting at the airport, while waiting to be checked in your hotel, etc.). A laptop provides you with the same mobility but with the added benefit of being able to type with ease. Be sure that your laptop has Wi-Fi connectivity, so that you can easily have access to an internet connection even when you’re on the road. If you are not into traveling much, a desktop in your home office (or learning area) will suffice since this is the cheaper option.

Peripherals. Your laptop or computer must have at least one or two USB ports so that you can get connected to a printer. You can also think about getting a wireless printer so that printing is more convenient. Other peripherals you can consider include:

  • A DVD burner. This allows you to make back-ups of your files (in case your desktop conks out or your laptop gets lost).
  • External memory. Better than DVDs, this can contain more of your files so that you can create more complete back-ups in case something goes wrong with your computer.
  • Keyboard. If you’re planning to spend extended periods of time with your computer, it’s best to invest in an ergonomic keyboard, so that you can type faster and comfortably.
  • Webcam, microphone and speaker. This will facilitate communications with your online teachers and classmates during chats and video conferences. If you want to listen without disturbing the rest of the house, you can also invest in a good headset.

Operating system and browser. For The American Academy, the online high school courses are web-based and are supported by most operating systems. This means that any computers manufactured later than 2001 will suffice. Of course, it can also help if your hardware is sleek and fast, so that you can get more work done because you’re not wasting time waiting for the computer to process your every click.

Internet connection. If you have a laptop or smartphone, you can consider getting Wi-Fi access. In your home, a DSL or Cable high-speed internet connection will help you download videos and materials, as well as upload projects and send e-mail attachments with ease. If you’re planning to use a laptop, think about getting one with Wi-Fi functionality so that you can access your online lessons virtually anywhere that has a wireless internet connection.

Programs. Aside from Microsoft Office, you also need to ensure that your computer has Adobe PDF Reader and Adobe Flash.

Other considerations:

  • Battery life. How many hours will your laptop last without being plugged in? If you expect to be traveling much, a laptop with a long battery life will be an asset.
  • Temperature. If you are using a laptop, monitor its temperature – it might get overheated. You can make use of a cooling pad to prevent the computer from breaking down because of the high temperature.
  • Monitor with high screen resolution. Since you’re be in front of the computer for hours, get a monitor that lets you read and look at content more easily. The recommended screen resolution is a minimum of 1280 x 1024 for optimal results. As for the monitor size, try to get one that is at least 17 inches wide. If you have a bigger workspace, you can also think about getting a bigger monitor.
  • Disk space. If you already have a computer available, check how much disk space is available. Usually, you will need to free up some space to ensure that the computer runs faster. You can also do a “disk cleanup”, deleting programs you no longer use and cleaning up items in your Recycle Bin.