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One of the scariest moments as a VIPKID teacher is when something goes wrong. Perhaps the student’s picture freezes or maybe the student disappears altogether. YIKES! What is happening? In this post, you’ll learn exactly what to do when IT issues arise and a few tips on how to avoid VIPKID teacher IT problems.
Is It A Student IT Problem Or Teacher IT Problem?
The first thing you’ll want to do when things become “glitchy” is determine whose internet is causing the IT issues: is it your internet or the student’s internet?
For VIPKID computer app users:
Luckily, VIPKID has an internet connection tool that displays your internet speed and stability. In the screenshot below, look at the upper righthand corner. You’ll notice that there is a green number 80 next to a WiFi symbol. When your internet connection is strong, this number will remain below 200. This value is known as the “ping”.
If your connection jumps above 200, don’t panic. Most of the time it will come back down relatively quickly. If your ping hovers above 200 for a few minutes, this might lead to some problems.
When the indicator reads below 200, you’ll know that the IT issues are probably NOT from your internet connection; your VIPKID student might be having IT problems. If this is the case, jump down to “VIPKID student IT problem”.
For VIPKID iPad app users:
Unfortunately, VIPKID hasn’t implemented the internet connection tool for the iPad app, which is quite frustrating. How are we to know if the IT issues are our responsibility?
Take a look at the screenshot of my VIPKID iPad app below:
As you can see, there isn’t any indication of your ping value or internet stability. If IT issues start to occur, click on the arrows at the top righthand corner. A dropdown menu will appear below these arrows that list several different “lines”. For example: Line 4, Line 5, Line 8, etc. Select a different line than the one that is highlighted (that’s the one you’re currently using).
Once you click a different line, the page will refresh. When the page refreshes, pay close attention. If you arrive in the classroom before the student does, this means your internet is probably stronger and more stable. If you arrive in the classroom and the student is already there waiting for you, the IT issues might be due to your internet connection.
For VIPKID computer app users (the old classroom):
On rare occasions, VIPKID will put teachers in old classrooms. The only difference between the old classroom and the new classroom is the layout. The screenshot below shows a picture of an old VIPKID classroom.
In the old VIPKID classroom, it’s also difficult to determine the root of IT issues. In order to check your internet stability, right-click on the white box that says, “Type here”. A dropdown menu will appear like the picture below illustrates.
Select the second option (written in Chinese). After you choose the second option, a graph will appear that shows your internet connection stability and strength. Remember, below 200 is the magic number!
My graph shows a bit of connection instability but the ping remains below 200.. success! This means the IT problems are not because of my internet connection.
Now that you know how to determine fault when VIPKID IT issues happen, check out the next step to fixing these problems.
VIPKID Teacher IT Problem
So you’ve done the necessary tests and figured out that your internet is responsible for the connection issues. Again, don’t panic. This can probably be fixed using a combination of the five tips below.
1. Refresh the page
When things get glitchy, refresh your page. A refresh button is located on each version of the VIPKID classroom, typically near the top of the screen.
2. Switch lines
Switching lines is usually my first form of defense against teacher IT issues. Sometimes the VIPKID server can become overwhelmed with activity (many classes in session at once). Switching lines can help strengthen your connection and make the class run smoothly.
Switching lines is different for every version of the VIPKID classroom. If you’re using the computer app, click on the words at the top of the screen that say, “Line _____”. There will be a number that tells you which line you’re currently using. For me, I have found that switching to line 8 while experiencing teacher IT issues has helped my connection.
If you’re using the VIPKID iPad app, switch lines by clicking on the directional arrows at the top of the screen. A dropdown menu will appear where you’ll select a different line than the one you’re currently using.
Switching lines has saved my class from IT issues many times.
3. Move closer to the router
Sometimes refreshing the page or switching lines just don’t do the trick. If that is the case, there are still several options for you to try.
The first thing you can do is move closer to your internet router. This will increase connectivity strength. Personally, I would turn off the camera while you move your computer or iPad closer to the router. This way it is a bit more professional and less distracting for the student.
4. Reset your router
In some cases, it might be beneficial to reset your router. This typically resolves many VIPKID IT issues. If the VIPKID Fireman is involved, they will usually tell you to reset your router as the first solution.
5. Use a backup internet source
In some cases, it might be awkward to get up and move your classroom in the middle of a lesson, even if you’re struggling with IT issues. Personally, I don’t like to get up and move. This takes time and in some cases doesn’t even help the IT problems.
Instead, I choose to switch my internet to my backup source. As a VIPKID teacher, I always keep a backup internet source by my side in case of emergencies. The easiest backup internet source is a phone hotspot. Using your phone as a hotspot is quick and easy.
We use Google Fi as our network provider, which has worked wonders for us. Google Fi uses the strongest cell towers in any given area, so you’re bound to have a reliable signal. We pay a base rate of $20 for the line and $10 per gigabyte; not to mention we only pay for the data we use.
The best part about Google Fi is that it is an international plan as well. No matter where we are in the world, we can use our phones without being charged insane amounts. If I am teaching in Thailand and I need to use my phone as a backup, the price for data remains the exact same as it would in the States.
If you’ve determined that the connection is unstable due to the student’s internet, report it to the Fireman. Do this by selecting “Contact Fireman” in the upper-righthand corner.
Sometimes it takes a few minutes (or more) for the Fireman to respond. In the meantime, continue to teach the class to the best of your ability.
VIPKID Teacher IT Policy & Pay
VIPKID teacher IT problems happen frequently and they are typically solved in a timely manner. However, in rare instances, IT problems persist and drastically disrupt the class.
When this happens, don’t worry. Apart from the five tips I’ve listed above, there is little else teachers can do. If the Fireman hasn’t been alerted yet, I suggest contacting them. Oftentimes the Fireman will move the classroom from the newer version to the older version. Since the new classroom requires faster internet speeds, the older classroom might solve the problem.
After all is said and done, if the Fireman has decided that the teacher IT problems interrupted class to a great extent, they will count the class as a teacher IT. I’m not positive about the timeframe that VIPKID allows teacher IT problems to persist during class before it’s counted as a teacher IT, but I believe it’s approximately four minutes or more.
If your class is counted as a teacher IT, you will not receive payment for that lesson. Apart from that, there are no other implications for VIPKID teacher ITs. VIPKID allows up to three teacher IT issues within 7 days before you must partake in IT testing to prove that your internet is reliable.
This is the email I received when teacher ITs seemed to haunt me during one specific week last March:
For peace of mind, VIPKID doesn’t fire teachers for IT issues, especially if it doesn’t happen frequently. I continued to teach my regular schedule, even after having four teacher ITs in a 7 day period. They are lenient with their teachers about IT problems, which is quite nice but they do require that you comply with their IT testing.
VIPKID Student IT Policy
If a student is experiencing IT problems, you’ll most likely have to teach through the issues and wait for the Fireman to mark the class as a student IT problem.
Occasionally the student IT issues might result in the Fireman canceling class. Keep an eye on the chatbox to stay in contact with the Fireman. This is where they will give you instructions on whether to stay in the classroom or leave.
When a class is marked as a student IT problem, teachers receive full pay.
The Wrap-Up: VIPKID Teacher IT Problems
IT issues can be extremely stressful, especially when you aren’t sure what to do. Use the tips above to fight VIPKID teacher IT problems and help your classes run smoothly from start to finish.
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