Homeschool is a concept we are familiar with now. A year ago? Not so much.
For most students, homeschool was not something that they ever thought would become a part of their everyday lives. The pandemic threw everything and everyone off and, as a society, we had to adjust to a different kind of normal that consisted of doing everything from home. Everything.
Different needs come afloat with a remote lifestyle. Instead of having devices connected to the Internet sporadically, now the entire family is connected to one router at all times. This one router keeps all of our tablets, laptops, phones, and gaming consoles alive.
Homeschooling brought with it a need for reliable Internet that could withstand hours of screen time, video streaming, and Zoom calls with decent video quality.
Considering the needs of a student while studying from home full time, is a connection of 10Mbps enough?
What Is a Good Internet Speed for Homeschooling?
In the pre-COVID world, the speed of the Internet was mostly important for entertainment. It was rare to find entire households working and sustaining entirely from home.
However, nowadays the importance of Internet speed is important because it’s become part of our jobs, schooling, and the only way to communicate outside of our homes.
For most, purchasing an Internet package meant being able to go online. Hardly anyone paid attention to the Mbps count in their plan. As long as movies didn’t lag on Netflix, everything was fine.
Yet, homeschooling requires an Internet connection that is fast enough to stream good quality videos, complete interactive homework assignments, and attend classes online for most of the day without losing connection.
There are key things you should concern yourself with when figuring out the best speed for homeschooling.
Now that you are probably more clear on what to pay attention to when purchasing an Internet plan for homeschooling, it’s time to talk about megabits for second, or Mbps.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you search how much Mbps you will need to stream a Zoom call, you might find that it’ll recommend something that ranges from one to three Mbps.
Yes, technically you could get on a Zoom call with a small amount of Mbps but, if there are multiple users on the same Internet connection, then three Mbps will not be enough; it will cause delays, disconnections, and the screen to freeze.
A standard Internet package or bundle normally comes with 25Mbps. You will find that a lot of Internet packages out there go to 1,000Mbps. It’s a matter of doing a little research and seeing what’s convenient for the household. Comparing different Internet plans is always helpful.
For homeschooling, depending on the size of your household, anything from 50 to 200 Mbps is a reasonable amount of Mbps to cover your basic needs.
Of course, you will notice that the Mbps count can get a lot higher with some plans. If you can afford it and you have a large household, go for it. However, in terms of practicality and cost-efficiency, a speed of 200Mbps is sufficient to homeschool with ease and comfortability.
It is possible that with all the extra expenses that piled up during the pandemic, updating your Internet connection is not in the budget right now.
There are ways to test and see what kind of speed you currently have and how to make the best use of it for homeschooling.
The biggest thing with online learning is video call quality. This is because most teachers will teach online through video so that it is the most similar to the classroom that the students are used to.
It can get a little frustrating if the Internet is not up to par with your needs, because it will slow down the streaming and cause delays in the video that make it difficult to communicate with the teacher and interact in the classroom.
In order to make the most of your current Internet connection, you have to know where you stand with your speed.
The first thing to do is to test the Internet speed in your household.
There are multiple websites available that will test your speed at no cost to you. It’s usually a simple process that takes only a few minutes to complete. The websites will test how fast your connection can upload and download files.
Once you know what the speed of your Internet is, then the next thing to do is to find out what programs the school is requiring to work from home.
Each program that a student uses for school will require a certain amount of bandwidth to function. Bandwidth refers to the measurement that the Internet uses to see how much information it can transfer at one time.
For example, if the school prefers to use Google Hangout Meets to video call during the class, you will need at least a 4Mbps to download and a 3.3Mbps to upload. Remember, these are not the best speeds but they will get the student through the class as long as there are no other users connected.
Once you figure out the speed of your Internet connection, it will be important to search online and see how much bandwidth each program needs and see where your Internet connection stands.
If after all this, you realize that the Internet connection in place is not enough, one good option to maximize the Mbps that you have available is to turn off the video during a call.
Not all teachers are fans of this, however what is most important is that the student can at least listen and take part in the class the best way they can. Video takes up a lot of bandwidth and it can slow down the entire connection. If it’s not absolutely necessary, then turn off the video option and just use audio.
If the Internet connection still doesn’t work well despite not using the video option, then students can always ask teachers to either send them a recording of the class or send them a lesson electronically as a PDF.
Sharing files in this way will reduce the size of the file shared and make it easier for the student to still take part in the lesson without having difficulties with videos or calls.
In the worst-case scenario, your cellphone might have to suffice to connect to the classroom. The only thing with that is that if your cell phone plan is not set up to have unlimited data, then you will reach data caps pretty quickly streaming video calls.
The Internet is endless and there are plenty of providers out there that can help you get a better connection at a reasonable price, with a good bandwidth to sustain all the intricacies and needs of homeschooling. With a little extra research, the right Internet plan can offer the right bandwidth for learning.