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Technology Requirements

Students taking online courses rely quite a bit on their personal computers, internet connection, and other software. Because of these dependencies, it is critical that online students take the time to ensure that their computers are running efficiently. Taking online courses does not necessitate buying a new computer, but online students may want to reduce their technical frustrations by using a computer capable of running web browsers (e.g. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox) and productivity software like Microsoft Word in a timely fashion. Many online courses also make use of multimedia content like videos, audio files, and interactive content, which may lead to slow load times on older systems.

Just as an older computer can increase the time online students spend with classes, so too can a slow internet connection. High speed internet is not required, but is highly encouraged. Students should consider the trade-off between extra time spent waiting for online class materials to download or upload, versus the extra expense of high speed internet.

In addition to having a reliable computer and internet connection, students should be able to complete basic computer operations such as reading and composing email, attaching files to email messages, navigating the internet, downloading files, locating downloaded files, locating files stored on their computers, copying and pasting text, using word processing software (e.g. Microsoft Word), using presentation software (e.g. Microsoft PowerPoint), installing software, and being able to follow verbal, written, and video steps as they relate to navigation and using software.

Free Software for Students

Students are eligible to receive software like Microsoft Office for free. Other software can be acquired at discount. Refer to this article for more information. Students, and everyone else, are also able to get free web browsers (Chrome and Firefox for example), PDF readers, and browser plug-ins like Flash and Java.

Computer Component Requirements

Some online classes may utilize interactive, synchronous meetings, as well as student-recorded content. Generally, those activities require at least a computer microphone and sometimes a webcam. Students without these devices, and that would prefer not to or cannot acquire them, are encourages to refer to registration details when enrolling in courses, and to their course syllabi on the first day of class.