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Managing internet expectations as we teach, learn and work remotely

Managing internet expectations as we teach, learn and work remotely  

On Monday, March 23, K-State students, faculty, and staff will collectively be online – teaching, learning, working. Are you ready? Are we ready? Know that access to applications may be slower, resulting from factors you may or may not be able to control. Response times for assistance may be slower due to demand. An application may be unavailable when you need it. The K-State IT staff have tried to anticipate what students, faculty, and staff will need for the next eight weeks and beyond, but we might have overlooked some things. Bear with us. We will continuously improve. We crowdsourced the following thoughts in hopes of mitigating some unforeseen issues and managing expectations.

Is your personal internet ready? Not all Internet Service Providers (ISP) are created equal, and some may experience a slower response time when accessing systems and applications online. 

What impacts internet speed? 

  • Age of computer – An older computer may be slower than a new computer. In general, newer machines have a faster processor.
  • Operating system – Apply the latest patches to your operating system. Running your computer on an outdated system will slow down your experience.
  • Out of date software – Update your software, make sure you are using the latest versions.
  • Internet service – Dialup, satellite, and rural internet will be slower than DSL, cable, and fiber.
  • Wi-Fi location – Move closer to your Wi-Fi router. For example, if your router is in the basement, and you’re on the second floor of your home, you will experience a slower speed.
  • The number of devices using the internet simultaneously. How many people are using the internet? Are the kids downstairs streaming a movie while you’re online? Is someone hosting a Zoom meeting in another room? All this activity slows internet speed.

How can you improve your speed? 

  • Scan for viruses  Viruses and malware can slow you down. Make sure your antivirus software is working, and your device is free of malware.
  • Power cycling  When was the last time you shut down your devices and router? Turn everything off, wait a couple of minutes, and then turn it all back on. This will refresh your device settings and ISP settings. Reset your router at least once a month.
  • Move your router  If you can, move your router to a better location. If you cannot move the router, physically move closer to the router.
  • Secure your Wi-Fi  If your Wi-Fi connection is unsecured, there’s a good chance one of your neighbors or someone else is sharing your Wi-Fi and using your bandwidth. Not to mention, an unsecured Wi-Fi leaves you exposed to cyber threats.
  • Use an ethernet connection  Cabled connections like ethernet, will always be faster and more reliable than wireless ones. The cable gets the signal directly to your device rather than relying on over-the-air transmissions.
  • Block ads  Ad media slows down your internet connection, so sometimes it’s easiest to just block them.
  • Clear your cache  As you visit websites and enter information, browsers collect bits of information about you, often in the form of cookies. To get rid of all those cookies and trackers, you have to clear the “cache” on your browser.
  • Use a hotspot  Create a hotspot with your mobile phone. NOTE: This will affect your data plan.
  • Improve your internet plan  This will increase your out of pocket costs for a faster connection.
  • Prioritize your needs A lot of devices may be connected to the internet and slowing down your speed, including doorbell cameras, Alexa, iTunes. If you are not using them, turn them off. Check your apps? Are they running in the background? Turn them off.
  • Close files and applications  If you have several online files, browsers, and applications running at the same time, they could all be slowing your speed. When you are not using something, close it.
  • Turn off automatic updates  If you have your devices set to automatically updateconsider turning the updates to manual. If your updates are automatic, they may update at an inconvenient time and slow down your speed.

Additional pointers  

  • Reduce your overhead  If you are not using a device or app, disconnect from the internet. Only connect devices when you are using them. If it doesn’t need to be connected to the internet, turn it off.
  • Create a schedule  There may be a lot of people in your household trying to use the internet at the same time. If you are teaching a live class, while your kids are taking their classes, this will cause problems. Schedule who can use the Wi-Fi and when.
  • Plan for slowness Slowdowns can occur when many people try to connect to the internet simultaneously, and they occur most often at peak activity times. Consider an alternative work schedule for off-peak times. If you need to work on a large file, consider downloading and manipulated and then uploading.
  • Don’t procrastinate  Don’t wait until the last minute to complete an assignment or upload a file to Office 365. This could be peak activity time, and you may experience slowness.
  • Be a good neighbor  There are K-12 and K-State students and community members who may be in need of a computer. If you have a personal computer or laptop that is patched with antivirus, consider loaning for their use. Let’s help out those in need.
  • Take a deep breath; we are all in this together.

Several internet providers are offering discounted or free services during the COVID –19 crisis. To learn more, visit the Internet options webpage.

Need help? For self-help, view the IT Knowledge Base articles. Need more help, contact the IT Help Desk 785-532-7722 or your local IT support staff.