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How to Learn Online When Your Internet or Electricity is Unreliable

While unreliable internet or electricity can make completing a course more challenging, there are ways to deal with the problem and succeed.

You can still study if your electricity is unreliable.

While unreliable internet or electricity can make completing a course more challenging, there are ways to deal with the problem and succeed. If your internet or electricity is unreliable, watching course videos and taking tests are likely to be the biggest problems.

  • Power up any battery-operated devices whenever you have electricity.
  • Download the videos to your device for offline viewing if possible. You may need to rename each video as you download it, to avoid confusion when playing.
  • Organize videos and other coursework in a folder on your device and label it with the course name.
  • Some learning platforms, such as Coursera, allow the whole week’s work to be downloaded in one step from the app. Most edX videos can also be downloaded for offline viewing. Some FutureLearn videos can also be downloaded. Other platforms have their own procedures and rules.
  • If downloading is not available, start watching the videos as soon as possible to give yourself the maximum time to finish.
  • If you have limited internet data, on some videos you can open the settings (it looks like a little gear icon near the bottom right of the video) and choose a small file size. Your videos may look fuzzy, but will use less internet bandwidth.
  • Try using the gear icon to play the videos at a faster speed such as 1.25 or 1.5, so the video will take less time. Perhaps you can watch more videos in this way before the power or internet fails. Don’t do this, though, if you have trouble understanding the words at a faster speed. You will waste time replaying the videos.
  • If available, open or download video transcripts and slides.
  • Compose written assignments and discussion posts offline, then quickly copy and paste them when you have internet access.
  • Make sure you are well prepared for quizzes and tests so you don’t spend unnecessary time trying to puzzle out or remember facts that should be at the forefront of your mind.
  • On test pages, look for a Save button, which may be at the bottom of the page. If possible, save each answer as you go, so if the connection is lost, you won’t have to repeat everything. If there is no Save option, jot down your answers. Take care, though, because some courses ask different questions each time the test is opened.
  • If you have a limited number of attempts for a test or quiz and your unreliable internet or electricity has used up an attempt, contact the course provider. Look for a HELP, SUPPORT, or CONTACT US link which can answer common questions or connect you to technical help.
  • If your internet or electricity is more reliable at a certain time of day or on particular days, do your tests at those times.
  • Look for a more reliable connection such as a coffee shop, transport hub, or public library with wi-fi. What about your workplace, with your employer’s permission? Some managers may allow you to come in early or stay late, especially if the course you are doing might improve your value to the business.
  • Remember that shared public wi-fi can attract hackers who are keen to discover your identity or credit card details. Reduce your chances of being hacked by following guidelines such as How to Avoid Public WiFi Security Risks.

Adapted from How to Learn Online with Unreliable Internet by Pat Bowden.

Pat Bowden Profile Image

Pat Bowden

Online learning specialist, still learning after 150+ MOOCs completed since 2012. Class Central customer support and help since 2018. I am keen to help others make the most of online learning, so I set up a website:  www.onlinelearningsuccess.org

Comments 4

  1. ERIC Hrahsel

    Thanks. This is the reason why i cant complete most of my course. Internet is expensive and limited and on top of that, our electricity is always down in between sometims it last to 4 or 5 days.

    Third world problems.


    Thank you Pat. That’s insight- filled. I’d really keep these principles in mind as I sign up for an online course; they are very practical too! Cheers

  3. Orlando

    Hey ! Thanks for the tips!

    I would add to keep the mobile apps updated to their latest version, since they can misbehave if they are not updated regularly.

    Also, VPNs may raise warnings in some platforms at the moment of identity verifications and payments, but for watching video materials and assignments I have not found any problem yet.

  4. Sibasish

    How to know what should I do with the courses I had studied? How to utilise them in what way so that my time invested is fruitful and easily monetised?
    Thanks for the post. It was great!


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