For remote back to school, a successful start begins with a good tech setup

BOSTON — As more school districts announce plans to start the year remotely, it becomes even more important to make sure the technology and overall set-up inside the home isn’t hindering the learning process.

Kadeem Ambroise of Brookline said that was a bit of a problem in the spring when he was finishing his senior year of high school.

“Honestly that might have the most difficult portion of the whole ordeal, just finding a place where I could be hyper focused and just get everything done,” Ambroise said.

Sam Shapiro, a rising sophomore in college, agreed.

“It was definitely tough,” he said. “I have some little brothers at home so there were times when I was trying to focus, and you have family conflicts and all that.”

Lisa Walker, a Vice President at Fuze, a Boston-based tech firm that had a majority of its staff working remotely well before the pandemic hit, said the spring was really a crisis situation.

While many children did their work at the kitchen table or their bed back then, Walker says it’s now important to make sure students have a comfortable place to study and appropriate technology.

“In terms of the lessons that we’ve learned from the remote worker, the number one piece of equipment to make sure you have good video experiences is your trusty old headset,” added Walker.

It’s important to make sure the headset has a good microphone.

Walker says to talk to children directly to find out what type of headset they prefer. “My 10-year-old wants an over the ear unit with a built-in mic, but he doesn’t want to see the microphone. . .my 13-year-old doesn’t want over the ear, he wants earbuds.”

Another important step is to take a look at your network to make sure you’re getting the best possible signal into your house. It might require some additional cost, however.

“We recommend getting an actual line. So getting your kids a hard line for learning guarantees that they’re going to have really good experiences on those video meetings,” said Walker.

If that’s not an option, Walker says it’s possible to increase the strength of your wi-fi with some boosters.

It’s a good idea to check with your school district to find out what technology their using so that everything is easier to sync.

One low tech consideration is a where your child sits, added Walker. “If I could say anything to parents out there, besides the headset and connectivity, it’s to get a good chair, and there are some inexpensive ways to do that.”

Walker suggests checking out gaming chairs as one option.

Finally, Walker added that many school districts are bolstering systems and helping families that can’t afford to make these technology upgrades. She says it’s worth checking to see what your community might now be making available to help.

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