In elementary school and middle school, your teachers might have provided supplies lists before the school year began. Whether it was composition notebooks, three-ring binders, or subject dividers, you learned the gist of what you need for a traditional school year.
But what about online school? Do you still need all the supplies that you would for in-person learning? What other tools are handy that you wouldn’t normally need for a traditional school? We’ve got you covered.
Here’s the school supplies list you need to succeed in online school.
1. Solid Internet Access
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often poor internet connection can cause issues for first-time online students. You might think that your internet is fine until you try to sustain longer, live online meetings. If your internet doesn’t meet basic requirements, you could face audio lag and video disruption that detracts from your learning experience.
So what are the minimum requirements? And how do we find out if our internet meets them?
Online school requires a bare minimum internet speed of 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps), both for uploading and downloading. But you’re much better off having an internet speed of 4 Mbps or more.
Testing your current internet speed is easy. Speedtest.net provides a straightforward test. Simply press “GO,” and it does the work for you. But before you start, make sure to turn off other devices that might bog down your internet. Once you know your internet speed, you’ll know whether or not you may need an upgrade.
Pro tip: If you’re experiencing connection trouble during an online class, make sure no one in your household is streaming services like Netflix. This can significantly affect video call quality.
2. Basic Computer Requirements
Similar to the internet requirements, you might not know the exact computer specs that you’ll need for a fluid online learning experience.
For PCs, experts recommend these minimum computer requirements:
Any recent MacBook will meet these requirements if you prefer Apple products.
In addition to these specs, make sure to purchase a webcam if your computer does not have one built in already.
3. Headphones with a Built-In Microphone
While you can get by using your laptop’s speakers and built-in microphone, having headphones do the job will dramatically boost the overall sound experience for you and the people listening to you.
Laptop speakers tend to make your voice tinny with a distant echo, which can be tiresome to listen to for more than ten minutes. Switching to microphones with built-in microphones is an easy action to make live meetings more pleasant and energizing for everyone involved.
Apple earbuds work well for those who already have them. If you don’t have these, any well-rated headphones with built-in microphones on Amazon should work fine. Just search, “headphones with microphone.” You shouldn’t have to pay more than $17 for the quality you’ll need.
4. A Healthy Workspace
At a traditional in-person school, a bell schedule forces you to get up and move from class to class. At online school, you usually have one workspace at home, so it’s important to make your space work for you.
Get a chair that supports your back. Long hours in the wrong kind of chair can leave you distracted by lower back pain. Find one that’s both comfortable and supportive of healthy posture.
Set up an eye-level surface for your computer. Contrary to their name, it’s not good for your neck to look down at your laptop all day. This can result in tech neck, causing neck and shoulder pain. Instead, sit at a 25 – 30 degree angle, looking straight toward your desk-supported computer screen.
Pro tip: Take frequent breaks throughout the day to move around and keep your body stimulated. You’ll find yourself less stressed and more focused.
5. Traditional School Supplies
You could get away with performing all your school tasks on a computer screen, but some things are just easier with a pencil and paper.
This is especially true for math work. Using word documents and a keyboard to solve math equations can be clunky and cumbersome. You might be less prone to making mistakes by thinking through your work on paper.
Even note-taking can be more effective with paper. Fast-typing students tend to copy their instructors word-for-word, which tends to impede their memory and understanding of the material. Slower, handwritten note-taking forces students to ingest material, decide what is most important, and summarize it in their own words. This method tends to better support learning and memory.
If you’re not currently enrolled at an online high school, consider starting with Sora.
Sora is an innovative online high school for ambitious students who want to break out of the traditional schooling mold. We’ve replaced boring lecture models with fun and engaging project-based learning. At Sora, students meet all of their high school requirements while pursuing expertise that fuel their passions. They enjoy a healthy blend of flexible scheduling and live support from faculty and peers.
If you’d like to learn more about what enrolling at Sora could look like for you, click here to speak with our admissions team.