Today’s fun topic is bandwidth! Or the lack of it.
Virtual classroom sessions are slowing down, VoIP is going to that place with all the handbaskets…. All because everyone is on video ALL THE TIME, including your kids, husbands, and wives, I bet. And your dishwasher, TVs, everything is on the internet.
Thanks to Coronavirus-related travel bans, new work-from-home arrangements, and deployment of virtual meetings and trainings, bandwidth can't keep up. In fact, some sources report that the Pentagon may limit access to sources like YouTube on their network to combat the issue.
InSync producer, Shauna Swanson, offers helpful advice that we use to navigate this frustrating issue:
Seeing as quarantine protocols are being enacted around the world, many of our attendees and facilitators will be logging in from home wi-fi connections. They also, more than likely, have additional people at home with them that would normally be at school/work. This means more devices connected to their internet(phones, computers, tablets, etc). Even if the additional devices are only powered on or in sleep mode, connected to the wi-fi, but not actually being used, those devices will still drain their internet bandwidth and speed. Most people do not have the highest speeds available to them as in corporate offices. Under normal circumstances, cost limitations and daily use result in these slow downs. Most people can stream just fine with "normal" internet speeds versus the increased speeds that we have as online learning professionals! But, the more their bandwidth is strained, the more likely they are to have issues with virtual meeting or learning sessions. People do not tend to initially realize how many things in their house are connected to internet (computers, printers, cell phones, tablets, tv's, etc. Some appliances even connect to wifi - fridge, dishwasher, washer/dryer) or how those connected devices can affect their internet speed. I have directly experienced (many times) how disconnecting devices that are not currently in use during the session from their wi-fi can greatly improve the functionality and/or audio of their online session. I do not mean every other device in their household, per se, but the more they can disconnect, the better their session will typically run.
If programs are choppy, encourage people to turn off the video, and think about what other devices in their homes are eating up bandwidth!
It's a simple fix, but especially helpful if implemented in a pre-session directive like all other event instructions. Add it to other common requests like:
- Find a quiet, dedicated space to join the session.
- Turn off background programs on your computer.
- Connect to audio using your phone or VoIP.
- ....make sure your co-work-from-homers stop streaming Netflix during the event!