Advice on securing a reliable internet connection and the right devices for remote learning.
Remote learning requires adequate devices and connectivity. If you have questions about technical support or resources available to students, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do not have the tools you need to connect in the fall, ITS will loan laptops, provide internet assistance and assist with access to other tools to support remote classes. As we only have a limited number available, we ask that you only request a laptop or internet access assistance if you do not have these resources or what you have does not meet the minimum requirements to stay connected.
- Desktop or Laptop computer required (more on choosing the right device for your needs)
- Dual Core i3 or AMD equivalent required, Quad core i5 or AMD equivalent recommended
- 4 GB of memory required, 8 GB or more recommended
- Webcam, speakers, and a microphone required. Headset recommended for privacy and concentration.
- A tablet or other touch-screen based device may be helpful but is not generally required or recommended
- Reliable broadband connection of at least 1 mbps down and 250 kbps up required, 10 mbps down and 1 mbps up recommended (more on securing a reliable internet connection)
- Wired connections rather than wifi or cell recommended
Laptops and Desktops
Prioritize laptops and desktops if possible. These devices provide the best screen sizes and compatibility with learning management systems (LMS) like Moodle and video conferencing platforms like Zoom.
Tablets allow you to do much of what you could with smartphones and laptops. Tablets are portable, offer a wide number of applications, and are more useful at taking notes and reading online than smartphones.
With the use of applications, smartphones provide you with portability and convenience. Ensure that your smartphone is compatible with the applications used for your classes. Be mindful of limitations such as a shorter battery life and screen size than laptops.
Wifi vs. Ethernet vs. Mobile Hotspot?
Ethernet is the most reliable way to ensure a smooth connection for synchronous learning. In most homes, wifi offers sufficient bandwidth for video conferencing, but a direct connection to your modem or router will be faster and more consistent.
- Learn how to connect to the internet on a Mac.
- Learn how to connect to the internet on Windows.
- Learn how to set up an ethernet connection on a laptop or desktop computer.
A mobile hotspot is useful when neither wifi nor ethernet connection are available. Mobile hotspots offer more geographic versatility in some cases, but may not provide a sufficient connection for synchronous learning.
What if my residence is not currently connected to the internet?
In order to connect to the internet via wifi or ethernet, you may need to sign up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many ISPs offer discounted internet for remote learning and low-income households. These plans cost roughly $10/month and require proof of eligibility. To determine which ISPs serve a given address, consult the FCC Broadband Deployment Map. You can also check these external resources that list low-cost internet plans:
- List of low-cost service options by ZIP code, maintained by the nonprofit Everyone On
- List of available plans, maintained by the California Department of Education
- List of low-income internet options, including information on government grants, maintained by DecisionData
Below is a non-exhaustive list of major ISPs that have accessible internet plans:
List updated 8/5/2020
Low-Cost plan: Spectrum Internet Assist. Up to 30 Mbps.
Free public hotspots? Yes. Check out Spectrum's map of public hotspots
Read Charter's COVID Management & Support Document
Low-Cost plan: Internet Essentials from Comcast. Up to 25 Mbps.
Free public hotspots? Yes. Check out Comcast's map of public XFinity hotspots
Read Comcast's COVID Management & Support Document
Low-Cost plan: Altice Advantage Internet (Optimum & Suddenlink). Up to 30 Mbps.
Free public hotspots? Yes. Check out Altice's map of public Optimum hotspots (Optimum Hotspots)
Read Altice's COVID Management & Support Document
Low-Cost plan: 15 Mbps for $10 per month for the first three months of service. No documentation required. Call 877-692-2253.
Free public hotspots? No.
Read Sparklight's COVID Management & Support Document
Low-Cost plan: Yes, more information available at 1-888-225-5837.
Free public hotspots? Yes. (No map available)
Read TDS's COVID Management & Support Document