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Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Smartphone, Tablet or Laptop; which is best for Online Learning

The COVID-19 Pandemic has presented many new norms. Some might be temporary such as social distancing and some might be here to stay such as face masks. One thing we know for sure, is that even when the virus becomes controllable, we may still keep some of the adaptations going forward. One of this would be online learning. Whether it is asynchronous, blended or realtime online classes, having the proper device will be a critical success factor.

CyberSafeTT understands that not all students would be able to afford laptops or similar high end devices. We are therefore suggesting the minimum device requirements for various level of learning and also highlighting the possible deficiencies that each device may present for that student. The guide is to set the expectation for both the student and parent and give the parent sufficient time to plan towards purchasing the most appropriate device.

The above comparison takes into consideration affordable and low to mid-range devices. This would not draw reference to high end devices such as iPhones, iPads, latest Samsung Galaxy Phones, Tabs or equivalent.  Minimum Memory, 1-2Gb on phones and 2-4Gb on Laptops, would be the benchmarks for this comparison.

Switching between apps have become standard practice especially for teachers who have become very comfortable with online teaching and are applying multiple techniques to support their online classes. This activity can be quite frustrating and even in some cases not feasible for students on very low end phones and tablets and can significantly hinder their online learning experience.

Some of the popular technical challenges voiced by students include:

  • Difficulty in getting Amazon Fire tablets to run Google Classroom
  • Poor audio quality from phones and tablets (without headsets)
  • Tablets slowing down after prolonged use (may also apply to certain phones)
  • Lower internet speeds on phone and tablets than laptops
  • Difficulty in using touch screen compared to mouse
  • Battery Life & Overheating
  • Inability to handle multiple user profiles – in case of shared devices, students often have to log in and log out of classes and device caching of previous user content causes authentication and permission issues

Although we are promoting digital transformation, some traditional techniques have been proven to be a successful learning methodology and for this we encourage note taking and handwriting of key lesson concepts. To complement the handwritten notes, some recommended note taking apps are Microsoft One Note, Google Keep Simplenote and Evernote.

In closing and this applies to whatever device you use, the idea of back-ups should be understood and actively practiced. Visit the CyberSafeTT 3-2-1 Backup Strategy page to learn about backing up your documents.