Soon after the significance of covid’s impact was first realized in early 2020, online learning pretty much became the norm for education in general. Although things have improved a lot since then, the internet has firmly established itself as a reliable medium for administering and receiving education on a global scale.
Note that both the technology and the necessary online learning options were already there for several professional/higher education programmes, but during the worst stages of the pandemic, online classes became the only option for education to continue.
It was also the first time that everyone from reception aged children to doctorate scholars were left with no other choice on such a massive scale. Suffice to say that in the absence of the technology that made it all possible, learning as a whole would have come to a grinding halt for a long time.
Every Student Should Have a Basic Online Learning Setup in 2022
All university students should at least have a basic setup needed to study online and that includes those attending on-campus university programs. There is no telling how many of their classes will actually be held in a crowded classroom. Universities are still vigilant about maintaining covid safety measures, especially since the virus is still mutating. For the foreseeable future, you can expect at least a portion of your on-campus classes to be conducted over the internet.
Therefore, it only makes sense for every student to have the basic setup necessary for them to learn online. As for those attending online degree courses, they really should invest in better tech and tools to boost the learning potential of every online class. That brings us to the main set of questions. What kind of tools and gadgets should a university student have access to? What qualifies as a basic online learning setup? What would be considered a more comprehensive setup? Read on to know everything you need to.
Computer: Laptop or Desktop?
We are starting off with the most obvious choice as most students will need a laptop, irrespective of whether they are studying online or attending classes at the local university. Now, a desktop PC is going to be significantly more powerful and cheaper to assemble than a laptop of similar computing power, but the portability advantage is just far too important to be ignored here.
You can buy a cheaper laptop for portability and casual schoolwork, while saving up and investing in a powerful desktop PC. Barring instances where the student is completing a course in multimedia, animation, game design, graphic design, 3D modelling, or any other subject that requires powerful hardware for running exceptionally demanding software applications, just a decent laptop should be more than enough to meet basic your educational needs.
As mentioned, your choice of laptop should be based on what you are leaning in college, your hobbies, and of course, your budget. For example, students pursuing an AACSB-accredited online MBA degree at Aston University can do so from any decent computer, because the programme has very little to do with running hardware taxing software, as it’s more about learning how to run a business organisation. That being said, “decent” needs a bit more explaining and the best way to do so would be through examples.
The following three are among the best low to mid-range (£600 – £900) options for students and professionals alike, as of Q2, 2022:
- Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
- HP Envy x360 2-in-1
- ASUS Vivobook 15 OLED
The Asus Vivobook Pro 15 OLED series comes highly recommended because it’s powerful enough to even be perfectly suitable for multimedia and graphic design work. Also, you may want to skip the MacBook Air M1 2020 at this juncture in Apple’s release cycle. A new MacBook Air is going to replace it very soon and the 2020 edition is far too old at this point to pay £850-£900 for it anyway. If you already have a MacBook Air though, chances are that you won’t need to upgrade for at least two more years.
Internet Connection: Data Consumption and Speed
Get an internet connection that’s fast enough to host and/or stream seamless, high-definition video conference calls and download study materials at lightning speeds. A slow connection in 2022 is just not acceptable for students, especially since it will have a direct, negative impact on their ability to follow classes, learn, and be productive. Let’s list a few important requisites that your internet connection and plan should be able to fulfil:
- Minimum download speed should not be less than 24Mbps – 30Mbps (3MBPS – 4MBPS)
- Minimum upload speed can’t be lower than 8Mbps – 16Mbps (1MBPS – 2MBPS)
- Maximum ping, aka lag, at any given time should not exceed 50ms and preferably it should stay below 40ms
Also note that it is preferable to have a 32Mbps connection without data throttling than a 1Gbps connection that caps the speed down to 1Mbps on exceeding the monthly allotment.
The fibre optic cable should go straight into your router, so that you can turn your place into a Wi-Fi hub. If your ISP is providing a decent enough router, then you probably won’t need to worry about it at all. “Probably” being the keyword, you may still want to invest in a better router with wider coverage. Consider the following suggestions if you wish to buy your own router for better security, control, and quality:
- Asus RT-AX58U: Wi-Fi 6, dual band gigabit, easy setup, good throughput, and signal quality.
- TP-Link Archer AX10: Wi-Fi 6, dual band gigabit, decent throughput, strong signal quality.
- TP-Link Archer AX50: Wi-Fi 6, dual band gigabit, excellent throughput, inbuilt antimalware system, strong, wide-reaching signal.
The three options mentioned here are not the best, but they are more than capable of providing excellent performance at an affordable price.
That’s pretty much all you should need to study online without a hitch, barring exceptional needs. For example, if you are a digital artist, you will most definitely want to invest in a Wacom tablet and pen, in case you have not done so already.