How can studying remotely become easier?
ENGLAB is a software that allows you to remotely connect to a computer system, which is physically located at the University of Waterloo (UW).
The benefits of ENGLAB come from being able to connect to one of the UW's computer systems because:
- You have access to a potentially stronger and faster computer
- You have access to software that may otherwise be difficult to obtain
Please refer to the "Connecting to a computer using ENGLAB" page
Improve your Internet speed
Internet speed is measured by upload speed and download speed
- Download speed is the rate at which information on the Internet is sent to your computer, it is measured in megabits per second. So, a speed of 10 mbps means that your computer can store 10 megabits per second from the Internet.
- Upload speed is the opposite of download speed. It is the rate at which information on your computer is sent to the Internet. It is also measured in Megabytes per second (Mbps). (You are uploading whenever you send something via the Internet, or when you store something in a cloud system for example)
The following are minimum Internet speeds you need for some activities:
- Streaming Ultra High Definition (HD) 4K videos: ~ 25 Mbps
- Streaming HD videos: ~ 5 – 8 Mbps
- Standard personal video call (e.g. Skype): ~ 1 Mbps
- HD video teleconferencing: ~ 6 Mbps
- General email browsing: ~ 1 Mbps
- Streaming online radio: Less than ~ .5 Mbps
The following are controllable factors slowing your Internet speed and potential solutions to them:
- Home Network Traffic: The home’s bandwidth can not keep up with the demand of all the devices connected to the Internet, here are some ways to deal with that:
- Use Quality of Service (QOS) settings: Some routers have this. This allows certain types of data to be prioritized over others. For example, you can ensure that your streaming data comes first.
- Remove devices that are connected to the Internet: There may be some devices that connect to your Internet that you may not want anymore. For example, a gaming console may have once connected to the home’s Internet and there is no need for it to be connected anymore. Once a simple way to deal with this is to change the home’s Internet password, all the devices connected will become disconnected, and you will need to manually connect all the devices to the Internet anew.
- Connect some devices to a guest network: You can set up a guest network and limit the bandwidth it has access to. You can then connect certain devices to that network to a lot more of the bandwidth to higher priority activities.
- Weak Wi-Fi signal: Walls, distance, and microwaves can interfere with your WI-FI signal. Fix this by either repositioning your router or your computer.
Make pre-recorded lectures better
Relevance of pre-recorded lectures
These days, pre-recorded lectures are the main, if not the only medium of learning for some students. For this reason, it is essential for your success to understand these lectures as well as you can, the following are a few ways you can do so.
How to make them better (so that you understand them better)
There are several different ways that you can make your lectures better than they are, three potential methods are mentioned here:
- Altering the playback speed: On many platforms that are used for pre-recorded lectures, there is the option of either slowing or speeding the playback speed of the video. If such an option is not available on the platform that is used, if you are using google chrome, you can add a chrome extension that speeds the pace of the video such as “Video Speed Controller”
- Adding captions: Some platforms such as Microsoft Teams, offer the option of having captions viewed alongside the prerecorded video when viewing it. Keep in mind that these captions are auto-generated and they may not be completely precise.
- Increasing volume: Sometimes, even after you maximized your volume, you may find that the volume is still too low. A possible solution to this is to enable a loudness equalizer. Instructions about this can easily found by doing a simple search in any search engine.
Improve your hardware
Upgrading your hardware can make your learning experience much more comfortable and easier. Also, upgrading hardware does not have to be expensive, the following are possible ways to obtain hardware for cheap:
- Thrift stores
- Websites that sell second-hand items such as eBay and Amazon for example
Here are some hardware upgrades you may want to consider:
Adding a second monitor is a great way to improve your screen viewing experience. It allows you to save time by not having to constantly switch web pages, and it can reduce eye strain by allowing you to increase the size of the font that you read on the second monitor.
Switching to hardware that is labeled “ergonomic” can lead to a much more comfortable learning experience. Available are ergonomic chairs, keyboards, and mice.
Speed-up your computer
Your computer may be slow for the following reasons:
- Running out of Random Access Memory (RAM)
- Running out of disk drive space
- Too many background programs running
- Malware or viruses
- Special effects and visual features
Here are some ways to make your computer faster:
- Restart your computer
- Delete some old files from your hard drive so that you have at least 500 Megabytes (MB) of disk space available
- Too many programs may be simultaneously running, so disable background programs
- Install system updates
Be safe with your information
The following is some of the highly sensitive information you should be protecting:
- Bank account numbers
- Social security numbers
- Pin numbers
- Credit card numbers
The following are ways to protect your information online:
- Use a strong password, that will be hard for others to guess
- Do not overshare information about yourself on social media
- Browse in private or incognito mode, this prevents the computer from saving information about you
- Be careful where you click lest your data should be compromised by falling into a phishing attempt