With school starting up again in many different flavors, Jason and I have been getting questions on how to set up a cost conscious home remote work area. We are here to help! Below is a strategy that is sure to increase your productivity without breaking the bank!
First, we need to start with an assumption: We are assuming your district is providing you with a laptop or chromebook. With this assumption there are three pieces of hardware that you can add to your home setup to significantly increase your productivity:
#1 Additional Monitor
Laptops are great for their portability, but the smaller screen can be a bit cumbersome for online teaching. From grading student work to filling out data reports, a second monitor gives you room to spread windows out and complete tasks faster. In fact, most experts agree that adding a second monitor will increase your productivity by 20 to 30%.
There are literally thousands of monitors to choose from in the marketplace. The key is to find a monitor with multiple inputs (to account for a variety of ports on different laptops, while still being affordable). The sweet spot currently is 24 inch monitors. That size offers great workspace while being very cost effective. Our current recommendation is the Samsung 24-inch Curved LED Monitor. It supports both HDMI and VGA connections so it will work with virtually any laptop and it is currently $130. This will be a game changer for your workflow!
#2 External Mouse
Laptop trackpads work fine in short sessions, but if you are going to be using a computer for most of the day an external mouse will increase your productivity and save your wrist and forearm from fatigue. On of the ways external mice aid in productivity is many come with programable buttons that allow the user to launch a program, undo, or go back to a previous page just with a click. The less you have to move your mouse around the screen the more efficient you become. One of the most important considerations when choosing a mouse is consider your hand size. I have larger hands so I prefer a larger mouse. Our recommendation is a mouse that does a good job of meeting the needs of both smaller hands and larger hands, the Logitech M330 Silent Plus Wireless Mouse. At $15, it is a great price with many of the benefits of much more expensive mice.
#3 External Keyboard
Often when you add an additional monitor, it is nice to arrange your laptop monitor next to it or even elevate it so there is a more seamless flow between the two monitors. The picture on the left illustrates how this can look. When you do this it necessitates an external keyboard to maximize your workflow and spare your wrists! Our recommended keyboard is from a relatively unknown company, VicTsing. The VicTsign Keyboard has great overall user reviews, durability, and is only $14!
Well, there you have it, three products that will significantly increase your productivity without breaking the bank. Hopefully this helps those of you that are looking for a home set up for your remote teaching days! We would love to see pictures of your home set up. Feel free to comment below and show off your remote teaching spot!