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Old 05-29-2020, 06:15 PM   #1
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Question Teaching online from remote areas

I did a search but came up empty. I'm sure it's user error.

I do have one major concern before heading out.

I teach ESL online. I make good money for what I do. The only thing keeping me from heading out is my fear of IT issues while trying to teach.

I need reliable internet that can handle two-way video, along with other bells and whistles, for hours at a time.

I know I can get this in campgrounds. But how about boondocking? Or just equally getting out into nature? Anyone else who teaches online, or something with similar requirements: How remote can you get before you can no longer work? What hardware are you using?

That is my only concern before making this a full-time journey.

I'm hoping for real-life experience advice.


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Old 05-29-2020, 06:26 PM   #2
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Actually, I imagine there aren't too many people here who do online teaching, though I'm sure the basic subject of Internet and phone service has been covered before.

Verizon is pricey, but it works well and I've had no problems with it. Their customer service leaves a few things to be desired, but the network is great. I know for a fact that Zoom works on my Samsung Tab A with Verizon's network.
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Old 05-29-2020, 08:08 PM   #3
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We've been forced into the online teaching since we both work for schools. We are still at home but would also like to see what's available if this continues into next school year.
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Old 05-30-2020, 12:16 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Tryingcake View Post
I know I can get this in campgrounds. But how about boondocking?
Actually I wouldn't count on campground wifi or cell reception. Some have it some don't, and often its only 2g for cell service, and campground wifi can be notoriously unreliable and/or slow. All depends on the specific campground though.

But how about boondocking? Or just equally getting out into nature?

Same deal, depends on the specific location, your specific carrier, etc. There isn't really a one size fits all answer. In my experience (two years on the road in a lot of remote locations, ATT & T-mobile) reliable, uninterrupted 4G is closer to the exception than the rule. In the places I went, I would ballpark I had good service at about 1/3 of the places I camped. But I was in a smaller vehicle and seeking out remote places so its likely in a bus you might be closer to civilization a lot of the time. Its certainly not impossible to find good service, you just cant count on it, and its highly dependent on your specific location.

If your classes are on a predictable schedule, you could make sure to find a location with good service ahead of time. Also data plans with two separate carriers and an external antenna might up your chances a bit.
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Old 05-30-2020, 01:51 PM   #5
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I teach in a mobile classroom I built in a bus. I am often in remote areas where there isn't any wifi. I use a service called Skyroam. It costs $9.00 per month and $9.00 per gig of data. I have had very good results with the service. I did purchase their hotspot (not sure what I paid since it was a couple of years ago) but they also have rental equipment (or did) Since all my classes have been canceled as a result of the virus, I had no difficulty temporarily suspending my service (and as a result don't have any payment) and they said happy to reinstate as soon as I am ready to resume teaching
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Old 05-30-2020, 03:06 PM   #6
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After much research into this topic, my takeaways have been the following:
  • Have multiple carriers and data plans. Different carriers will have different reception in different areas.
  • Install a mast with a WiFi booster/antenna.
  • Plan ahead. If you intend to be working remotely boondocking arrive at your location _before_ work and test your internet connection(s). Have at least two options on the table before you commit to a spot.
  • If your spot has spotty signal or isn't super reliable on any one carrier (I really think at least two working solutions like mentioned above is the minimum), move on, and give yourself the time to move on prior to needing to work.

Some of this stuff, depending on your job and procedures, comes down to discipline:

  • Make sure to communicate your status in your work applications if applicable- setting "Away" and when others can expect you to return.
  • Give a phone number if you are unreachable in your chat applications to handle urgent situations.
  • Try to check and respond to any messages that came in while you were away immediately, don't wait to respond.
  • Notify as soon as you are able to, any outages or difficulties you may be having communicating to those that need to know.
Technology is the means to the solution not the solution itself. Due diligence is. Have multiple options, plan ahead and be good at communication.
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