Upgrading the e-learning experience starts with addressing the online learning tools and tech students and educators have access to during the virtual school day. Here are nine of our favorites.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a number of schools and universities will continue to operate remotely during this fall. Needless to say, the spring online education had rather mixed results, as teachers and students alike struggled to adapt to a digital curriculum on short notice. Without the face-to-face component of the traditional classroom, distance learning requires a host of technologies to enhance the educational experience. From versatile computing options to basic devices to boost home connectivity, there are a number of devices to help educators and students make online learning better this fall. We've curated this roundup to highlight some of the best online learning tools to enhance distance education this fall.
Zoom recently announced a new product category, Zoom for Home, designed with remote work and distance learning in mind. The first Zoom for Home product, DTEN ME, is an exceptional all-in-one workstation for distance learning. The 27-inch 1080p LED touchscreen provides students plenty of digital workspace for interactive lessons. Many laptops come standard with rather lackluster microphones and webcams. The DTEN ME features three wide-angle cameras and an eight-microphone array built into the device that enhances audio and video during lessons.$599 at DTEN ME
The ever-popular 2-in-1 laptop design is a great option for distance learning. These models allow students to leverage a traditional screen-and-keyboard style device while offering the versatility and functionality of a standalone tablet. With this in mind, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is a solid 2-in-1 model for those so inclined.
The Surface Pro features a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and up to 1TB of storage for optimal performance during the digital school day. Front- and rear-facing cameras (1080p) enable visual collaboration for interactive lessons. The manufacturer estimates that the Surface Pro 7 can last more than 10 hours on a single charge.$1,000 at Amazon
Not all students will prefer the look and feel of a 2-in-1 device and some may appreciate a dedicated tablet. With up to 128GB of storage, the classic iPad is a great option and now supports the Apple Smart Keyboard for added versatility. The 10.2-inch Retina display offers plenty of digital workspace in a compact, lightweight handheld device. During more interactive assignments, these handy tools can help with digital collaboration and some students may choose to take notes on the tablet.$320 at Amazon
Not all computers come with quality webcams and some more affordable devices lack this hardware entirely. A basic webcam is also a great option for those looking to enhance their e-learning experience. This Logitech model offers widescreen HD video and even automatically corrects lighting for crisper video. The C270 3MP comes with a universal clip and easily attached to a wide spectrum of monitors and laptop screens.$49 at Amazon
Learning at home can be distracting for students and teachers alike. Headphones are a great option for individuals who want to block outside distractions and tune in for the lesson at hand. This model from COWIN features noise-canceling technology to further eliminate background noise during lessons. The manufacturer estimates that this model is capable of performing for 30 hours on a single charge, which is more than enough for multiple school days.$80 at Amazon
Not all computers are designed with top-notch speakers onboard. At higher volumes, these factory components can pop and crackle, greatly diminishing the sound quality. In an online lesson, clean crisp audio is imperative. A Bluetooth speaker is a great option for those looking to turn up the volume and dial in for a lesson. During independent learning, students can also use the speaker to play their favorite study playlists. This DOSS model is one of the more popular Bluetooth speakers on Amazon and the battery is more than capable of powering students through a full day of lessons and beyond.$28 at Amazon
A dedicated external microphone is another easy way to give your virtual collaboration a boost. The Shure MV5 is an exceptional compact model featuring various preset modes (instrumental, flat, vocals) to provide superior audio quality in a host of acoustic settings. As an added benefit, the microphone also detaches from the small mount for a more low-profile fit on a workstation.$100 at Amazon
For an optimal online learning experience, many students need to leverage numerous devices, often at the same time. Many newer laptops have few (if any) USB ports to help with external recharges. Moreover, running all of these devices off of the laptop can quickly drain its battery midway through the school day. For this reasoning and others, a dedicated external USB charging hub is a great way to keep all of your devices fully charged without burying your laptop under a mountain of cables and dongles.$29 at Amazon
A child's remote education experience is wholly hinged to a household's Wi-Fi connection. Perpetually being booted from a lesson can be a drag on engagement and information retention. For some households, upgrading their home network may be the necessary first step to making online learning better this fall.
Purchasing an entirely new router isn't necessary in all situations. In fact, simply adding a Wi-Fi extender to an existing network could be an adequate fix for many. These devices work by boosting your existing router signal around the house. This can help shore up parts of the home with low or poor quality connections.$27 at Amazon