Getting Yourself Online
If this is the first time you have delved into the world of online communications beyond basic emails and online messaging, it's normal to feel a bit anxious. To get the best experience possible, we have to check a few things first.
Do I Even Have Internet?
If you are on this website, then there's a 100% chance that you are on the internet. Nowadays, we are able to access the internet not only from home, but in public places such as malls and restaurants, and also through our cell phones and mobile device plans. Ideally, for online lessons, you want to ensure you are using a home internet plan with your Internet Service Provider (or ISP for short). Using cellular data on your cell phone or tablet may be easy to access if you're used to using those types of devices, but data overage fees can definitely hurt the wallet (and video calls use A LOT of data).
If you have never had a home internet plan before, and only used public internet hotspots (such as shopping mall WiFi, schools, or libraries), most ISPs offer introductory deals for 6-12 months. Give your local ISP a call and find out what type of internet plan is best for your use and your budget.
Is My Internet Fast or Stable Enough?
To have a successful online lesson experience, you'll want to ensure that you have a strong, stable internet connection with a respectable speed. Internet speed can be simplified by two numbers: Download speed and Upload speed. These two numbers are rated in kilobits/sec (kbps) or Megabits/sec (Mbps). A bit is a unit of digital data which computers and modern digital devices run on. The higher the number, the more bits of data can be sent or received, resulting in faster internet.
Many ISPs will advertise their plans based on Download speeds, upwards to 300 Mbps, but you must not ignore Upload speeds as well. Video calls and meetings can be very taxing to your internet connection, and require between 600 kbps to 1.8 Mbps (1800 kbps) of BOTH Upload and Download speed. If your internet plan offers less than 1.8 Mbps of Upload speed, there is a strong chance that you will encounter video/sound stuttering, freezing, or slowly degrading video/sound quality. Most internet plans will offer at least 3 to 10 Mbps of Upload speed. If you're not sure what Upload and Download speeds you have, you can quickly check this by going on Speedtest.net (by Ookla) and running a simple, one click test to determine your average Upload and Download speeds.
I Now Have Fast Internet. Now What?
Once you have acquired a dependable internet service for your home, you may now take the next steps to determining how to setup or attend your online lessons. The next two articles will go over many common video calling apps used for online lessons.