August 24, 2021

Optimize Back-to-School Zoom and E-Learning

Undoubtedly, 2020 and early 2021 taught us a few things about how important a good internet connection can be. Without it, millions of students nationwide would have missed an entire school year. Thanks to modern technology, however, remote learning allowed education to continue while school buildings were closed.

As we enter the 2021-2022 school year, many schools remain remote-only or are moving to a hybrid model with at least part of each week spent online. This means the internet will once again play a key role in educating the next generation. It also means the infrastructure will continue to be challenged to see how well it holds up under intense daily use.

Zoom Requirements

As great as online access has become over the past couple of decades, one weakness in the internet world that was painfully revealed over the past year was how slow many legacy cable providers are. While Zoom and other video conference services require less bandwidth than you might think, they work faster and smoother on better connections. That makes sense since video streaming requires large chunks of data to display correctly. The more bandwidth allotted, the higher the resolution that can come through at any given time. Even though video conference calls can technically work on lower bandwidth – as low as 1.5 Mbps – visual clarity improves with higher speeds. Better resolution leads to less annoyance and more productive video calls.

Zoom Logo


There are ways to lower the bandwidth requirements for Zoom. Start with turning off the HD setting. You will lose a bit of resolution, however, but how much depends on your connection. This may be fine if, for example, you’re using a larger screen where pixelation doesn’t matter as much, or you don’t need to see details of a slide in a presentation. But it can be a challenge if you need visual clarity or are Zooming on a cell phone or small tablet with its smaller screen.

Legacy copper cable has a slower internet speed and can struggle to keep a clear signal on a video call with many users. This lower capacity can lead to dropout or video lag, an unwelcome distraction when focusing on learning. In addition, an especially slow connection can stall or cut off conversations, preventing some participants from asking questions or contributing.

Zoom Needs

Zoom Speed Requirements 1 courtesy of https://www.highspeedinternet....

How fast is your current internet? Take this speed test to find out.

Now let’s look at both the advantages and disadvantages of e-learning.

E-Learning

Advantages of E-Learning

Lower cost: After the initial technology investment, e-learning is relatively inexpensive, often pennies on the dollar compared to in-person learning, with no expensive building to maintain. Some traditional costs, such as textbooks, might still pop up, depending on how much student material is online versus in books, but overall costs are typically lower.

Reach more students at once: Unlike classrooms that can only hold so many students, e-learning is highly scalable, with many more participants online than would be available in person. This allows one teacher to reach many more students at once.

Replay lessons: Did you miss the original live e-learning opportunity? Many instructors post their lessons online for post-class viewing for those who could not attend the live broadcast. Replay it at your convenience and not miss important information. Even if you attended the original, you could review it to make sure you caught it all.

Disadvantages of E-Learning

Less social interaction: E-learning can often feel isolating as students feel they are all alone, away from other students, and without immediate access to the teacher. As a result, students may not get the assistance they need. This loneliness and lack of attention can lead to academic challenges and suffering grades.

Excessive screen time: Many parents agree kids already spend too much time on screens, thanks to social media and online gaming. Add hours of e-learning and kids might spend most of the day staring at a screen. This can lead to potential eye issues and attention span challenges.

Lack of access to good technology: As much as we would like to think everyone nowadays has quality internet access, many people still do not, especially in rural areas where the expensive infrastructure is not yet built. Without this access, e-learning is difficult at best and might be impossible.

Maximize Your E-Learning Experience

While almost all computers will run most video conference applications, get the most out of your e-learning experience with a newer computer with a high-speed internet connection, ensuring you gain the maximum technological benefit.