Laptops, in general, are the most preferred option in today’s online learning. Compared to a desktop or tablet, a laptop is basically equipped with an integrated webcam and microphone enough to let you handle a virtual class.
It’s quite daunting but you need to figure out what kind of laptop do you really need for online teaching? Does it have to be high-end?
A laptop is as essential as a textbook, a personal library, a research tool, for taking notes, assigning homework, lecturing, and even video chatting. All you need now is to get a value-focused model that is perfect for your requirements.
>>>Looking for which laptop to buy? We found and reviewed 10 laptops perfect for teachers.
What Kind Of Laptop Do You Really Need For Online Teaching?
You have a lot of options when it comes to laptops, but there are a few outstanding traits you should look for when buying a laptop for online teaching. Check out the following prerequisites:
1) It should allow you to work flexibly
Are you teaching home-based or do you travel every day to school? Are you looking for a portable computer for easy carrying? Here, you can determine between smaller-sized, thinner, and lighter laptop options. Identifying the main use of a laptop will help you find the perfect size that allows you to work with ease.
How large a monitor display do you need? Most online teachers use at least 17 inches laptop, a 15-inch monitor is enough for you not to squint a lot while looking at the screen. This includes how webcam and audio are properly facilitated. A laptop that allows you to work flexibly should have conveniently built-in devices for the webcam’s or microphone’s quality, or in case you need to buy, it can accommodate these tools appropriately.
2) It should help you keep up with the demands of online teaching
This calls for a processor (also referred to as CPU or APU) with a good speed. It’s like the amount of energy playing through your computer’s brain. Speed matters so faster is better.
Online teaching today basically uses Zoom meetings and emails. A computer with a 2.5GHz Dual-Core i5 would do a perfect job whether you’re handling elementary, high school, or college classes.
Intel core i3, i5, and i7 are today’s top-of-the-line processors. It may sound like they are quite expensive, but what you are getting is a faster computer for all your data processing. There are more affordable options though, but you have to make sure that it is compatible with the rest of your computer parts. Check wisely if you must.
3) It should provide a good capacity for saving data
Speaking of your computer’s memory – we call this RAM (Random-Access Memory), or your computer’s primary memory device.
Even if it entails short-term memory, this will allow your computer to multi-task for you. Definitely, you will be having more than one, two, or even three tabs or programs open during your lectures. So think of a higher number of RAM so the computer will not bog down in the middle of a class.
Newer laptop models now come with at least 8GB of RAM which is sufficient for conducting regular online classes, online meetings, reporting, video chatting, and even tasks that require multiple windows in the background. However, if you’re performing a multitude of processes happening at the same time, then it may not be enough.
4) It should have enough storage space on its hard drive
A hard drive (hard disk drive or HDD) is self-contained or permanent storage where operating system files, installed software, and other data are saved. Like a bookshelf where you store and safe keep all your books and study materials, a hard drive similarly provides a very high memory that stores your data permanently until you move or uninstall them.
While RAM is your computer’s main memory, it generally is smaller than a hard drive and it takes just one instance to crash in the database. If this happens, you will lose your documents in an instant. The hard drive is your secondary storage device used to store data. That’s how important secondary storage is for online teachers.
You will be happy with a 160GB HDD drive to house MS Word files, presentations, projects, research, upload, and download requirements. Go for a laptop with more storage space. You can invest in extra storage if you need more, any time.
5) It should allow you to work without shutting down anytime
I’m talking about battery life. Going back to how you will be using your laptop: think about conducting an online class in a place without an outlet nearby. Even when you’re at home, you’ll want a laptop that can last from 7:00 in the morning to at least after lunch without the charging cable.
Nothing ruins productivity like a computer that simply shuts down without a warning. Batteries for laptops should allow you to work on the go because your computer is not plugged into an outlet. If your battery works on a single charge of battery giving you anywhere between 4 to 7 hours straight, you can accomplish a lot.
6) It should show the keyboard prints nice and clear
Don’t you just hate it when you can hardly see the letters, numbers, and symbols on your keyboard? You need the right visibility when in an online class. Modern laptops are already designed with semi-transparent keys so the light underneath will shine through it nice and clear.
Invest in a laptop with a backlit keyboard to illuminate the print on the keys. This is very helpful especially when working at night, or in a low light environment. There are times you may need to spend all night working on a lesson or grades. Or maybe you’re doing work at a coffee shop with dimmed lights. A backlit keyboard is an ultimate necessity for your online teaching. It equips you all the time.
7) It should have the necessary ports for your needs
You’ll definitely need to plug in a webcam, a microphone, a document camera, a USB flash drive, or an external keyboard. So you need a lot of ports. Even USB hubs are extremely important, not to mention how it makes a good charging point for Bluetooth speakers and smartphones.
Additionally, online teaching will require you to transfer files or data from a laptop to a printer, scanner, or other device. Audio ports also connect you to a headphone or headset. Being in front of the laptop the whole day requires you to facilitate a turn and talk. Therefore ports are among the laptop features you need to establish the right workplace.
1) What laptop specs do I need for online classes?
Processor: Although the standard core i3 processors can get you by, core i5 processors have more cores so it has an all-out capacity to run different processes at the same time without pressuring the CPU.
RAM: Some people say 4GB RAM is good enough for teaching. But the 8GB has been the standard RAM favored by teachers for virtual activities.
Speed: 1.5 Mbps Internet speed is the minimum requirement. But for teaching, Fiber offers a simultaneous connection of 20 Mbps speed both for upload and download. Go for at least 50Mbps.
Screen: At least 13″ will do but if you can size up, all the better.
2) Which is better 4GB or 8GB RAM?
3) If I have the best laptop, do I need a webcam for an online class?
A webcam is optional. A high-end laptop already comes with a built-in web camera capable of HD displays. However, for mobility purposes, or if you require more angles – an external webcam may be needed. Generally, the secret to a good webcam is “the larger the sensor, the better the picture, and the more advanced feature, the better it performs.
4) Is it okay to use my laptop while it’s charging?
Yes. Your laptop this way is being powered by the A/C adapter and not the battery. However, this can also reduce your battery lifespan in the long run. For your battery’s health, charge it to 100 percent before using it. The best thing is to unplug your power adapter once the battery hits 100% in order to maximize its life cycle.
5) How can I increase my laptop’s battery life?
- Ensure it is between 40 and 80 percent charged and avoid getting to zero power.
- When working plugged in, allowing it to run excessively “hot” will cause the battery to deteriorate.
- Always store your battery in a well-ventilated area.
So now you know the few special requirements for the kind of laptop you need for online teaching. Note that each of the features above will help you to properly set up your online classroom. It doesn’t matter what your teaching needs are, a highly suitable laptop is equipped with features that can help you teach online smoothly and successfully.
You may want to obtain a dedicated webcam in addition to a laptop? Or wireless headphones?
Do you have anything to add to the list? It sure will help all of our online teachers. Share it with us in the comments.