Internet. 1 Mbps or higher stable internet is recommended (slower speeds work but reduce the quality of the class, and higher speeds improve the class experience). We recommend fiberoptic or cable internet. DSL is the next best option. Mobile broadband can work if the signal is strong and stable, but will have a reduced class experience. Satellite is generally not recommended for conferencing, but can sometimes work (depends on how the internet provider is set up). Prior to enrolling, we require families to test the GP7 conferencing software on the computers and networks they plan to use for classes.
Live Class Meetings. TPS uses the GP7 conferencing platform. GP7 provides a fully interactive classroom to students worldwide, even in remote locations with limited connectivity. GP7 is fully integrated with StudyPlace, the assignment and grades management platform. For best live class experience, we support Windows, Mac and Chromebook, preferably with pen tablet, stylus, or touch screen. GP7 also runs in browsers (Chrome recommended) on devices (tablets, phones). However, TPS provides only limited support for tablets (because the screens are generally too small for a good class experience, and because there are so many different models and operating system variants) and no support for phones (screens too small for good class experience).
Audio. Our classes require a working headset with headphones and microphone. We recommend a USB headset for reliability (USB audio devices are easiest to setup and manage, and most likely to work on any Windows, OSX, or ChromeOS system). Earbuds are generally not designed for computer use and generally do not provide a suitable microphone for classes. Desktop microphones and camera microphones generally pick up too much background audio, and so do not provide good audio for the classroom.
Camera. Cameras are not required for our classes unless specified in the course description. However, starting 2020-21, cameras will be allowed for discussion portions of our live classes and may be encouraged in classes that involve considerable interaction. More information…
Browser. We recommend Google Chrome for StudyPlace and any other TPS web browser applications. Chrome is the most stable, secure, full-featured, fully cross-platform (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android) browser, offering users a consistent experience across all their computers and devices. We also support Firefox. Families and students may use other browsers, but we don’t support them.
PDF Reader. Families and students must have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, or an equivalent application. Some classes use PDF format for assignments, and students may submit work in PDF format.
Office Documents. To minimize compatibility reading and editing compatibility problems between teacher and students across operating systems and word processors, TPS supports the .doc (Word 97/200/2003/XP) format for editable word processing files. (.docx is becoming more common, but has important editing/reviewing features that are not universally supported.) To save families from having to buy extra software, TPS supports Libre Office Writer as a word processor that works on Windows and Mac, and produces universally-readable and editable .doc files. Students are welcome to use other Office software (e.g., Google Docs), but if a student has trouble viewing or editing a document for class, or if a teacher has trouble viewing or editing a submitted document, the student and teacher will be required to use Libre Office and .doc format for that document to ensure compatibility.