Laptop Accessories to Make Distance Learning More Comfortable
Distance learning and remote education has become the new norm for students ranging from preschoolers to Ph. D candidates.
Distance education, considered by many in the education field as scenarios where students take classes that are largely self-directed, and remote learning, where students attend classes at specific times via their computers, are growing in popularity. About 21 percent of public schools and 13 percent of private schools offered online courses during the 2017–18 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. For the Fall 2020 semester, nearly half of all K-12 districts around the United States opened with remote learning, and most colleges and universities followed suit. Many institutions are also incorporating a hybrid model for their offerings, where classes are delivered via a combination of online and face-to-face settings.
The trend is likely to continue, driven by health concerns as well as the convenience distance education offers for college students and adult learners.
Still, the world of online education is relatively new, with both students and teachers working furiously to adapt. And while the structure of course delivery is largely in the hands of educators, there are steps learners can take to make the process easier.
Accessorizing for success
Some factors that contribute to online learning success are easy to identify. Students should find a quiet place to work, with proper lighting, plenty of desk space and a comfortable chair. That might be a home office, a cubicle in the campus library or a table tucked away in the corner of a favorite coffee shop.
But other factors that may not be so obvious are likely to come into play as well. Because online learning is technology-based, there are a number of technological tools that can make the process more comfortable.
Of course, a dependable laptop and a reliable Internet connection serve as the foundation of any online education endeavor. Beyond that, though, there are a number of laptop accessories that can ease the process of learning via computer.
A wireless mouse – Although laptops typically incorporate some sort of trackpad control for the cursor, they can be difficult to use, especially if you’re accustomed to using a mouse with your home desktop. A wireless mouse can be an easy way to incorporate that functionality into a laptop. Lenovo’s ThinkPad Wireless Mouse, for example, offers excellent portability and perfect ergonomics in a sleek and stylish travel-size design. Its 3-button ambidextrous design provides both left- and right-hand comfort, with up to 12 months of life on a single AA battery. And when not in use, the Thinkpad Wireless Mouse easily tucks away in the side pocket of a laptop bag.
A USB pen – Although we’ve all become used to using a computer keyboard to capture our thoughts, there’s no substitute for the pen-and-paper experience. An active pen combines the best of both worlds, enabling users to sketch or jot down notes on a touchscreen laptop and have those ideas appear in a document. For a natural pen and paper experience, try the Lenovo Active Pen 2. The Active Pen 2 is a Bluetooth-enabled Active Capacity Pen that features 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and includes two quick-access side buttons and one top button that can be configured for one-click open of your favorite apps.
A headset mic – Chances are good that as a distance learner you’ll spend a lot of time listening to lectures and participating in online discussions. Although full-size headsets will certainly handle those tasks, they can be hard on the ears with extended use. For a more comfortable alternative, consider the Wicked Audio Omen earphones with mic. The earphones are great for extended listening with 3 cushion sizes, and noise isolation to help you focus on what’s important. And to help keep your workspace clear of clutter, these earphones incorporate Bluetooth capability that lets you listen from as far as 32 feet from your laptop.
An extra power adapter – Even if your laptop battery offers long life, there will invariably be situations where you’ll need to plug up. And while your laptop came with its own power adapter, it never hurts to have one for the home office and a spare for the laptop bag (or a replacement if your existing adapter gets damaged). For those situations, there’s a Lenovo Power Adapter for fast and efficient charging at home, in the office, or on the go.
A docking port – For the convenience of a desktop in your home office and the portability of a laptop, a docking port is just the answer. A docking port allows you to supplement your laptop while at home with a larger monitor, a printer and an external keyboard and mouse. When it’s time to head to the library or the coffee shop, the laptop disconnects easily for travel. Docking port solutions include the Lenovo USB-C Mini Dock and the ThinkPad USB-C Dock Gen 2. Lenovo USB-C docks function with notebooks that support industry standard USB-C Alt-Mode protocols through their Type C port. The ThinkPad USB-C Dock Gen 2 also allows users to connect two 4K screens or three 1080p displays.
The new educational environment
There’s no doubt that distance education and remote learning are going to be a major part of the educational landscape for years to come, if not forever.
How successful an online learner will be in their academic endeavors depends on a host of factors, but anything that makes the process easier is bound to be welcome. Having the right laptop accessories can help contribute to that success.
For more insight into what it takes to succeed when learning from home, check out Lenovo’s resources for distance education. Review our Lenovo FAQ for more recommendations on the technology you’ll need for distance learning, like the best student laptops.