The Online Students’ Back to School Guide


Are your children enrolled in online classes this school year? Will they be taking live, online classes? Here is what you need to make sure that your kids are ready to rock the online learning world. September is a new beginning and a good time to gather materials, prepare the learning space, organize the computer and get ready to learn before they go back to school.


1) Earphone with a Mic. Even if you do have a mic on your computer, you need ear phones; otherwise there can be a strange and unpleasant echo in online classes. A mic enhances the audio experience. Just about any old set will do. I have used a number over the years and have found no real differences in them.

2) A Webcam: Online classes are much better if you can see your teachers and classmates and they can see you. You might want to get an external webcam, even if you already have one built into your computer, because no one looks good on an internal webcam. I use the Logitech C270. If looking good is important to you, check out this piece.

3) A Printer: While the urge to go paperless is strong, studies show that students (especially young students) learn better if they see the words on paper instead of on a screen. I often teach writing classes, and there is no question that children proofread more carefully when they are working with paper. For the sake of learning, it is not the time to go paperless.


4) Check your software to be sure that you are ready for the online classroom. If your classes are through WizIQ, you can easily check your software here. This page will walk you through tests for your systems, internet connection speed and devices. The only tricky part is with the devices. You have to allow access in both of these places to check your devices.

5) Make sure it works. Go to the WizIQ Online classroom and check it out! When you click on the “Try Out The Virtual Classroom “button, you will be prompted to make an account with WizIQ. Then you will be able to actually try out the online classroom with a moderator from WizIQ. You can make sure that everything works before class starts.


6) Set up a Google Drive Account. Google Drive is ubiquitous. It is hard to imagine any learning or sharing of data without it. To set up your account, you need a Gmail account. From your Gmail account, click on the apps button:

Then click on the Drive Button:

You will then be prompted to download Google Drive.


7) Give your Documents a good cleaning. At least, put all of last year’s work into a folder so that you can find this year’s work.

8) Give your computer a good cleaning. Remove any programs that you are not using by going to the Control Panel. From the “Charms” menu in Windows 8, search for the Control Panel:

Then go to “Programs and Features.”  You will see all of the programs running on your computer. Do not remove programs haphazardly as some of them are essential to the functioning of your computer. However, there are certainly some files that you are certain that you do not use anymore. Get rid of ‘em! Clear out the clutter!

9) Defrag your computer. If your computer is running slow, its files might need to be re-organized. Defragging is the quick and painless process through which your computer reorganized and consolidates its files. You can find the Defrag tool here:

 10) Check on your anti-virus service. I use Sophos. It is a bit expensive, but whenever I have a problem, I am able to talk to a human in minutes. Then they whisk in, take over my computer and kill whatever little vermin is inhibiting it.

11) Set up your kids learning space. Your students need a quiet place to work- but no one (at least no one I know) does great without some sort of monitoring. Unless your kids’ concentration is rock solid, be near him when he takes online classes.

12) Consider placing parental control software on your computer. Yes, your kids are wonderful and trustworthy, but my suspicion is that they would appreciate having their access to the internet restricted when they are supposed to be getting their work done. I lock myself off of the internet when I am writing for a two hour block of time using an app called Freedom. Parents’ Control by Screentime allows you to put time limits on various websites, only allow certain websites, or turn all of the access off at a particular time. For example, you can allow access to learning sites but block FaceBook. You will know that your kids are doing what they are supposed to be on their computers.

13) Check out the WizIQ Courses. You are sure to find a course that your learner will love. Exciting, engaging courses can be found and new courses are being added all the time.

14) Contact your kids’ teacher and encourage your children to do so, as well. Online teachers are real human beings! Most teachers really appreciate knowing that their students are excited by the upcoming course, and your online teacher is no different. Make it easy for your teacher to get to know you by dropping them a quick email.

Voilah! That is all you need to be ready for class. Enjoy your semester.

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