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⚙️Technical basics and minimum requirements.

Technical basics and minimum requirements

  1. ⚙️General information.
  2. 💻How to check technical parameters of my computer?
  3. ⚠️What if the technical parameters of my computer do not match the minimum requirements?



⚙️General information

To hold successful online classes a teacher needs to possess certain equipment with certain characteristics:

  1. A personal computer (PC) or a laptop with a webcam.

Minimal requirements:

  • Processor: Dual Core 1,8 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Webcam
  • Microphone (integrated into the laptop, into the headset or separate-standing)
  • Headphones or headset
  1. Internet connection:
    • Wi-fi or LAN: 50 Mbit/s
    • SpeedTest with following numbers:

https://www.speedtest.net/
Ping: 10 ms (maximum)
Download: 20 Mbps (minimum)
Upload: 20 Mbps (minimum)

  1. A TABLET IS NOT SUITABLE FOR ONLINE TEACHING.

All of the mentioned requirements are based on our experience in using the virtual classroom.

A teacher needs a computer or a laptop, but not the tablet, because the interface of the virtual classroom has less features for tablets and mobile phones, which will restrict the teacher at the lesson a lot. Of course, using the tablets also slows the teacher down, as it becomes harder to access the needed files or websites.

The minimum requirements for computers are based on the fact that the virtual classroom is opened with a browser and in fact this takes a lot of system resources in operative memory (RAM). Counting the fact that a user usually has a lot of other programmes working on the computer simultaneously and taking the resources of the operative memory and processor, an online teacher needs to have a stable and powerful machine to work at.

Same reasons work for internet connection requirements.

  • Ping characteristics shows the delay in sending and receiving the data packages through the network. The higher this number is, the worse your connection in the virtual classroom will be – your video and audio will be constantly interrupting.
  • Download speed shows how well you are able to receive the signal – usually this characteristics is a bit better than upload.
  • Upload parameter mean how well you can send your data through the network: the image from your webcam, your screensharing in the classroom, etc. If your upload speed is low, the student won’t be able to see or hear you properly and of course see your screensharing.

💻How to check technical parameters of my computer?

Windows 7

  1. Find an icon Computer on your desktop.
  2. Right-click with your mouse and choose Properties in the menu.
  3. System menu will open. 
  4. Look at the System block, lines Processor and RAM and compare it to the minimum requirements from the previous chapter.

Windows 8

  1. Tap File Explorer icon on the left of the taskbar.
  2. Select Computer in the menu on the left.
  3. Right-click Computer and choose Properties in the context menu.
  4. System properties menu will open. 
  5. Look at the System block, lines Processor and RAM and compare it to the minimum requirements from the previous chapter.

Windows 10

  1. Tap File Explorer icon on the left of the taskbar.
  2. Select Computer in the menu on the left.
  3. Right-click Computer and choose Properties in the context menu.
  4. System properties menu will open. 
  5. Look at the System block, lines Processor and RAM and compare it to the minimum requirements from the previous chapter.

Mac OS

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner.
  2. Select About This Mac.
  3. You will get an Overview of your computer. 
  4. Compare the information in the lines Processor and RAM to the minimum requirements from the previous chapter.

⚠️What if the technical parameters of my computer do not match the minimum requirements?

If your processor is too slow (less than 1,8 GHz, single or dual core), or your computer doesn’t have enough operative memory (RAM – less than 8 Gb), the best options would be:

  • to add more operative memory (RAM); you need to find out whether your computer supports RAM adding;
  • to disable all unnecessary programmes in Startup menu to free more resources (see below how to do it);
  • to increase Virtual memory (Pagefile — see below how to do it);

How to disable unnecessary programmes in Startup menu?

In this menu you can disable all unnecessary programmes which run on your computer from the start after loading. Don’t be afraid to disable them – these programmes do not influence your system, you will not harm your computer by switching them off.

Usually a user would need to disable:

  • an antivirus (Avast, Nod32, AVG Antivirus, Avira, Kaspersky, 360 Total Security, etc.) The antivirus usually takes a lot of system and internet resources, performing background scanning, updating, etc. It is usually quite hard to switch the antivirus off after it is loaded manually, so, if your computer is slow, it is better to switch it off from the beginning – this will release system resources for conducting lessons on the platform – surfing the internet will never harm your computer unless you download any suspicious files. You can switch the antivirus on after working.
  • Skype. We sometimes need Skype for conducting lessons when the virtual classroom has technical issues and for communicating with the administrators and methodologists. Yet, if you do not need skype for your lesson, it is better to switch it off for the lesson and open it later, as skype takes a lot of operative memory (RAM).
  • Desktop messengers (Viber, WhatsApp, Slack), which also take a lot of operative memory (RAM).
  • Any other updaters, managers, helpers.

Windows 7

  1. Press Win+R on your keyboard.
  2. Run menu will open.
  3. Type msconfig in the window.
  4. System configuration menu will open.
  5. Select Startup menu

Windows 8 / Windows 10

  1. Right-click with your mouse on the control panel (below your screen) or press Ctrl+Alt+Del and open Task Manager.
  2. Select Startup menu.   

Mac OS

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner.
  2. Select System Preferences
  3. Select Users & Groups
  4. Select Login Items in the window. 
  5. To remove a programme from this startup list, click on it so it is highlighted blue, then click on the minus sign beneath the list of programmes.

How to increase Virtual Memory (Pagefile)?

When your computer lacks operative memory (RAM), you can use a trick: to take a part of your hard drive memory and use it as operative memory.

Windows 7 / Windows 8 / Windows 10

  1. Open System menu:

Windows 7:

  • Find an icon Computer on your desktop.
  • Right-click with your mouse and choose Properties in the menu.
  • System menu will open. Note how much RAM you already have (4 Gb on the screenshot).

Windows 8 / Windows 10:

  • Tap File Explorer icon on the left of the taskbar.
  • Select Computer / This PC in the menu on the left.
  • Right-click Computer and choose Properties in the context menu.
  • System properties menu will open.
  1. Select Advanced system settings
  2. System properties dialog will open.
  3. Select Advanced
  4. In the Performance section click Settings
  5. Performance Options dialog will open.
  6. Select Advanced tab again.
  7. In the Virtual memory section click Change. 
  8. Virtual memory dialog will open.

Now you have 2 options.

  • You can either choose Automatically select paging file for all drives
  • Or you can set the size of virtual memory manually (especially for old machines). Click on Custom size Click on the drive where your Windows is installed in the window above (usually this is C: drive). Then set the size of the paging file – you can enter the same number both for Initial size and Maximum size

What number to choose? Remember how much operative memory (RAM) you already have (you noted that in Step 3) and enter the same number, but in Mb, not Gb.

E.g., you have 4 Gb of RAM. So you enter 4000 Mb (1 Gb = 1000 Mb).

Mac OS

For Macbooks you do not need to increase the virtual memory manually, as this option is already built into your system and is called Swap files and is working on default.

What if my internet speed is too slow?

To check your internet speed you can use an online speedtest: https://www.speedtest.net/

The requirements for your internet connection are as following:

  • Ping: 10 ms (maximum)
  • Download: 20 Mbps (minimum)
  • Upload: 20 Mbps (minimum)

Sometimes you may notice that your provider states you have a good package with high speed, but the results of the speedtest may show problems.

To fix the situation you first need to find the reason of the low speed of Internet.

Step 1. Check the speed of your internet on another device.

  • If you are using Wi-fi, connect your smarphone or another laptop to the same Wi-fi spot. Run the speedtest there.
  • If you are using LAN connection (with a cable), not wi-fi, then find another laptop and connect it with the cable. Run the speedtest there.
  • If the numbers are the same (high ping, low download and upload) on the second device, then the problem is either with your internet connection.
  • If the numbers are significantly better (lower ping, higher download and upload), then the problem is with your computer.

Step 2. It looks like the problem is with my internet connection.

  • If you are using Wi-fi, try to sit closer to the router – you need to sit in the same room with it, as the signal gets signifially worse when going through the walls and closed doors.
  • Check whether anyone is using the internet together with you – maybe someone is using the same connection and downloading big files or watching videos in high quality, which takes internet resources.
  • Check your Wi-fi router. Sometimes old routers can give bad signal and loose packages (ask your provider to send technicians for help)
  • Buy a better internet package or change your provider (especially if the numbers on your speedtest differ a lot from what your provider states).
  • Ask your provider to check their hardware in your house.

Step 3. It looks like the problem is with my computer.

  • If you are using Wi-fi, check your Wireless adapter.
    You may try to update drivers (best way is to download a driver from the official website of the adapter producer).
    If your computer is old, it may already have hardware problems. When the problem is with wireless adapter itself, there is not much what you can do, as fixing the wireless adapter in the laptop would be too difficult and expensive.
    Try to use LAN connection (cable) instead (you need to have a LAN port in your computer or laptop; brand-new laptops usually don’t have LAN ports anymore, but there are special dock-stations which have it and can be connected to the laptop.
  • If you are using LAN (cable), check your LAN port and the cable itself.
    The cable or the connector on it might be broken.
    If your computer is old, it may already have hardware problems. When the problem is with LAN itself, there is not much what you can do, as fixing the port in the laptop would be too difficult and expensive.
    Try to use Wi-fi instead.
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