With many schools across the country still partially or completely closed due to coronavirus concerns, teachers are ensuring their home offices are set up so they can successfully deliver remote lessons to their students.
Last spring, when the shutdowns first occurred, many NEA members realized their computer systems need to be updated to meet the challenge, so they contacted us to find out how to use their membership benefits to get discounts on laptops. We’re still helping teachers find discounts through our NEA Discount Marketplace, as well as our brand-new NEA Office & Classroom Supplies Program.
But you also need to decide what to buy to set up your new remote classroom command center at home.
There is no “best laptop for teachers,” because you have to select one based on your own needs, which will depend on your familiarity with technology, what programs you feel comfortable using, and how interconnected your instruction resources need to be. Dell, Apple, Microsoft, Lenovo and others offer high-quality laptops that are popular with teachers.
Here are some suggestions on what to look for as you decide which laptop to buy to support your teaching needs now:
- A lightweight laptop with at least a 12-inch screen
- At least 8GB of RAM memory so your computer will work quickly
- An i5 processor or better so your computer will work quickly
- A hard drive with at least 250GB so you have room to store large files
- A built-in camera/microphone for video calls
- A graphics card that’s at least 512MB to support video calls
You also need to evaluate the rest of your setup to make sure you have the optimal configuration:
- The fastest WiFi access available from your internet provider
- A web browser program such as Safari, Chrome or Firefox
- A video service, such as Skype, MS Teams or Zoom
- A word processor, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs
- A spreadsheet tool, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets
- A presentation tool, such as Microsoft Power Point or Google Slides
- Cloud-based storage – such as on Google, DropBox or Microsoft One Drive—so you don’t have to store all of your documents on your hard drive. Cloud storage is backed up, handles large files and is easily sharable.
- A PDF creator, such as Adobe Acrobat
- A good set of headphones to help you focus, especially if you’re self-quarantined at home with other people
- An all-in-one printer/scanner if you need to scan in documents to send to students and parents, or if you prefer printing documents to read, grade papers, plan lessons and more
- Enough ink cartridges and paper to handle the amount of documents you’re printing
Look for deals through NEA Discount Marketplace, either directly from the manufacturer (such as Dell and Apple) or through third-party retailers (such as Best Buy and PC Mall). You also can sign up with the new NEA Office & Classroom Supplies Program to shop online for laptops, printers, ink cartridges, paper and more.
Be sure to check out NEA’s new resources on lesson planning and remote instruction to put your new equipment to work.