Truth is, life often interferes with work. Vacations, conferences, PD–all these take us away from our primary job functions and the environment where we are most comfortable delivering our best work. But you do need the right equipment and setup to make that happen. Here’s what I currently use to teach from home or can easily arrange:
- Have necessary apps on iPads and smartphones. This includes your LMS, virtual meeting tool, cloud accounts, email, scan, social media, and sharing.
- Have a digital notetaking program–Evernote, OneNote, Notability, or Google Keep for example.
- Wean yourself from printing hard copies. It’s easier to do than it sounds. My printer broke–well, it wouldn’t print more than one page without jamming. That made it hard to print a lot of documents. Instead, I loaded the document onto my iPad (or laptop) and interacted with it there. PDFS: I can annotate with the Edge browser or a dedicated app. Google and Microsoft docs: Easy to work with those right from the platform. Once I’ve marked them up as needed, I can email the file, take a screenshot and share it, or do nothing (in the case of Google docs). No printing required. I am now completely used to that–would never go back to the paper-wasting approach.
- If you go somewhere else to work (I was going to say a coffee shop but that’s out of bounds this month), don’t use a public WiFi. Use a hot spot connected to your phone. Public WiFi like Starbucks are notoriously insecure.
- Be brave about solving problems associated with online work. Don’t let setbacks and roadblocks stop you. Be accountable to yourself or you won’t get stuff done. I have to say, so many of my fellow teachers are risk-takers. When this remote teaching problem was dumped in their lap, their attitudes were positive, can-do, and try to stop me!
- Have a virtual meeting program like MS Teams, Zoom (if your school allows it), Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Webroom.net, Big Blue Button, or another. These are for larger groups (like a book club meeting). Small group video calls work nicely with programs like Facetime, Skype, or Google Hangouts.
- Student collaborative groups can be addressed with a mix of Facetime on phones and the Google Doc on the digital device. Or another way–I’d love to hear how your students address this.
- Have backup batteries for your phone, laptop, and iPad. You’re using them a lot more than usual. They’ll run through your power more quickly than you’re accustomed to. And, videos, personal hotspots and Google Maps burn through power. What should last nine hours turns out to be two.
- Have redundancy where something is important. For example, my external battery charger died and my iPad ran out of juice. Since then, I purchased a redundant backup power supply.
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.