August 7th, 2009

Travel Tips for Online Instructors

By:

Well, it’s that time again: summertime, and thus more online instructors are on the road and that means your indispensible umbilical cord to the classroom will also be coming: the laptop.

For the class and its students can’t be left alone for too long; it and they need you, and thus your summer journeys hither and yon must include that portal of connection to both.

Here are a few tips to keep your hassles to a minimum while you enjoy a well-deserved break:

  • Bring a laptop first aid kit. On the road you may not have access to a convenient computer store, so it’s best to bring both your “this I need” and “this I might need” items with you, including a can of air, screen wipes, Ethernet and flashdrive cords, a small flashlight, contact information in case of a computer problem, and an extra flashdrive.
  • Travel with a cigarette lighter plug-in. Several airlines now provide outlets on board so laptops need not run down their batteries. These are the same size and shape as the old cigarette plug-in lighters, so you’ll need to bring an adapter to use them—but they will help save your laptop’s battery life (for when you really do need it) and give you a tad brighter screen.
  • Bring along copies of important PC files. Do a thorough check of files on your PC to determine which ones you might need on the road; copy them onto a flashdrive.
  • Be aware of hotel’s Internet access policies. Most middle-to-upper-scale hotels have Internet access in the rooms, but some have it available only in their lobbies or other public spots.
  • Remember that laptops do not like liquid, sand, humidity, or heat. While laptops can go anywhere, don’t get careless and forget about their aversion to liquid, sand, high humidity, and heat. Be careful of drinks being passed over your laptop and sitting too close to a pool with your laptop; also, don’t bring it to the beach: with sand, water, high humidity (possibly), and heat in ample supply, your laptop is a disaster waiting to happen.
  • Be up front with any late student correspondence resulting from your travels. Nearly all online schools require that faculty respond to student correspondence—of any kind—within 72 hours max. If you expect to have difficulty in meeting this deadline because of an out-of-town trip, let your students know so they can plan accordingly—and will not think you’ve lost interest.
  • Protect your laptop from thieves. When not using your computer, keep it locked in its case (this prevents someone from taking your accessories and/or laptop). Label both your laptop and case in the event it is stolen or misplaced.
  • Universal adapter and surge protector. If traveling abroad, it’s imperative that you have a universal adapter so you can use your power cord with another country’s electrical system (nearly always different from ours). Also, bring along a surge protector to shield you from any “hiccups” in another country’s electrical system.

Excerpted from On the Road Again: Keep Your Computer Happy! Online Classroom, July 2007. For the complete article, download the free report:11 Strategies for Managing Your Online Courses.