What do I need my computer to do?
I tried calling several computer companies and was hung-up on when I told them the list of things I need my computer to do. I don't think they understand what teachers do all day. I simply need a computer to:
Host Google Meet
Presenting Google Classroom
Or Google Slides
Or Google Doc
or another website
Or Using a document Camera
Montoring Students (65) on GoGuardan on a 2nd Monitor
while having access to
I need to be able to move between all of the above options seamlessly.
I need this to all happen without being kicked out of my live class and or my computer lagging horribly. Now is this too much to ask for? Apparently some believe it is. My district, however, believes this is completely normal and reasonable way to multitask.
The only solution is to learn what I need and go from there.
Screen Size and Weight - Portability matters. I need something I can take wherever I am teaching. I don't want too small as I am looking at the screen all day. I like the size 13-15 inch screens and weighing less than 4 pounds.
Processor - This is the brain of the computer. You used to want an Intel but now AMD is the best (and it is cheaper). From my research you are looking for a Ryzen 5, 7 or 9. If you decided on Intel go with an i3, i5, or i7. Pay attention to the speed of this... it's the part that tells you how much coffee you drank this morning and speeds up your processor just a bit more.
RAM - You want at least 4GB but no more than 16GB. This is where that multitasking thing takes place. The more stuff you want to do at one time the more RAM you need. It is your short term memory bank. You need the space to do the stuff.
Disk Drive - You want an SSD (Solid State Device). This is what your smart phone has. It is more stable and is well worth the little extra you have. This is the long-term memory. This is where we used to save things to before the cloud. Now this is what holds and runs all of the many programs on your computer. The more complex your programs... the more you need. Certain sizes of RAM usually dictate the size of your disk drive. You want at least a 120GB if everything is online if you have a lot of programs on your computer you will want 1TB.
Webcam, Audio, and Graphics - You will need to make sure you have a decent webcam, audio, and graphics card. I read that a dedicated graphics card is the best but they are more expensive and harder to find.
WiFi - If you cannot connect, what's the point? Try for 4 or higher. You want to have 4G capabilities so your computer will last you awhile and be "future ready."
USB Ports - Make sure you have enough and the right type of ports for all of the things you will need to connect to your laptop.
Time to Shop!
After looking around and asking other teachers, these are their favorites for online learning. These links are all affiliate links to Amazon. I hope this helps get you started to finding the computer that best fits your needs.
As you can tell, a good computer for remote and blended learning isn't cheap.
Apple Macbook Pro with the new M1 card had the highest recommendations of all the laptops. However, it does not like to play nice with G Suite and Google. For this reason alone, I had to take it off of my list of options and this is where I spend my day. I am still dreaming (and drooling) over the Apple (I am an Apple Girl) but alas... it doesn't fit my needs.
Dell Inspiron and HP Elitebook were the next two most recommended models. The HP ZBook Firefly was recommended to me by a friend who is a computer engineer. It is the only one with a dedicated graphics card. While I thought that was nice I also choked a bit on the price difference between the two HP models.
The Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 11e was also high on the list of recommendations. However, I took this one off my list as well. This is the model of my district issued device and it is not enough. Per our district tech guru, I need a bigger processor to run all the things I do. In a regular size class, it is brilliant and would be my favorite. I just have 64 kids at a time and it cannot handle monitoring that many students. This is probably what I will get my high school senior as he heads off to college.
Which one is best? It all depends on you and what you need.
So what will I buy? Stay tuned. I am watching for sales and dreaming of a lag-free classroom experience!
Talk to you later.
Hi! My name is Misty. I am a 6th Grade ELA Teacher, Mama of 5, and author of The Path to Passionate Teaching.