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Online learning has become a prevalent part of education. This can be a powerful tool for teenagers engaging in homeschooling. The wider range of resources now available to you can help you access a richer learning experience.
You can find a more nuanced and fascinating array of online course subjects. Applications designed to support and organize your learning have been developed in just the last few years. Not to mention that improved video call software empowers you to meaningfully interact and pursue projects with groups of other homeschoolers.
Nevertheless, it is vital to make sure you have the right equipment at home to take full advantage of the opportunities. This isn’t about buying the latest hardware on the market. Rather, you need to take steps to prepare your current computer to perform well during the coming year of online learning.
Let’s take a look at a few areas you should focus on.
Review Your Hard Drive
Your hard disk drive (HDD) is one of your most important tools for online learning. An overfull or old hard drive can impact the running speed of certain software and applications. While your HDD is also responsible for keeping your files stored safely, problems here can see your school projects being corrupted or inaccessible. You should, therefore, dedicate some time to ensuring your hard drive is operating effectively.
Start by freeing up as much space as possible. Go through your computer and fully uninstall any apps or software that you don’t currently use. Be brutal here and try not to horde anything unnecessary. You should then search your HDD for the largest files on your system. Delete any that you no longer need, but be careful not to remove any essential operating files. Don’t forget to delete any temporary files on your drive, as these can be a significant drag on performance over time.
If you still find your computer is having storage problems or transferring files slowly, there may be deeper issues with your drive. Indeed, all hard drives fail eventually, with the average lifespan usually around 3-5 years. For younger computers, it may be worth adopting life-extending measures like keeping your computer cool and fully powering down your hard drive when not in use. However, if your drive is more than 5 years old, you may find it better to replace it after backing up your files.
Check and Maintain Security Protocols
While the digital landscape can be a boost to your homeschooling, there are also significant risks. Cybercrime is one of the most common concerns in this regard. It’s important not to assume that hackers aren’t targeting homeschooling teens. Your data and device have value to criminals and it’s important to take steps to bolster your cybersecurity for the school year ahead.
One of your most valuable steps here is to educate yourself about the current risks and how to tackle them. For instance, malware can destroy your files and be used to steal your personal information. These are usually downloaded to your system through links in phishing emails or by accessing compromised websites. Your best forms of protection, therefore, are making sure you install reliable antivirus software and keeping your computer’s security patches updated. However, there are various threats and you should take the time to stay up-to-date on them all.
Alongside virus protection, it’s important to also check that you have strict security protocols activated on your computer. Most devices today come with firewalls, which you should make sure are turned on at all times you’re learning online. Ensure you have encryption services in place for devices like the webcam you use for any online class video calls. Creating a strong password for these items can also prevent unauthorized access to your device and the activities you perform with them.
Customize Your Setup
Most computers are configured to service the general home user. This doesn’t always mean it’s well-designed for your online learning needs. The good news is that most setups can be customized to make your computer a more efficient and functional tool to support your homeschooling.
One of the most simple but effective steps you can take is to customize your taskbar. Most operating systems will allow you to pin the icons for apps to the bar for faster access to the software. It can be a good idea to populate your taskbar with the apps you need most in your learning. For instance, pinning a note-taking app to your taskbar can prevent you from having to rummage around your system if you find you need it in the middle of a class or project video call.
There are also some steps you can take to customize your computer for better organization. Configure your browser to download files to a folder specifically designated for this school year. Even creating an entirely separate school account can be a useful approach. This means that your desktop is not cluttered with your personal files and apps. Instead, you have a clear account that is just dedicated to your schooling and loaded just with the apps and files you need to learn. This can also be a good way to separate your school and personal life. You get to log out from school every day and use a separate account intended just for your personal interests.
Online learning is a powerful addition to your homeschooling curriculum. However, it’s important to make sure your computer is fully prepared. Check and clear your hard drive for anything that might be causing a drag on its performance. Educate yourself about current cybersecurity risks and ensure your device has adequate protection protocols. Taking the time to customize your computer set-up can help your homeschooling experience be more organized and efficient. With just a few additional actions, you can get the most out of online learning.