The Bare Necessities: Tech Requirements for Online Classes
Taking online courses isn’t just for the tech-savvy. While some students might be comfortable multi-tasking on their smartphones, tablets and laptops, the only thing that’s actually required for an online class is access to the Internet. Just like students taking traditional in-seat classes, you’ll still have to write papers and read course material, but you don’t need to have the latest and greatest tech gadget to succeed in the online learning environment. In fact, many schools will have a ‘Technical Requirements’ page, just like the one here used by Columbia College that explains the systems and programs you’ll need.
For most online courses, your professor will provide links to PDFs of reading material or links to videos and lectures. These generally require the computer you’re working on to have Adobe Reader and Flash Player, both free downloads. If you’re working on your own computer or laptop, these generally don’t take up too much space on your hard drive. If you’re working in a library or on campus computers, these programs will most likely be downloaded already, however, should you need to download these programs on any computer, your college should provide links on their website or the aforementioned Technical Requirements page. You can also download Reader and Flash directly from Adobe.
Other than the specified programs for downloading and watching course material, you should only need an Internet browser (such as Firefox, Chrome or Safari) and Microsoft Office which will include Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These systems will work on both Mac and Windows and the choice of operating systems is entirely up to your personal preference.
And even though you’re taking classes online, you can still do your required reading the old fashioned way. It might be worth it to invest in a personal printer, but look to your university or local library for printing use. Many students prefer to print off their reading and make notes in the margins or highlight important sections. But no matter how you choose to study, make sure that you do! Online courses require the same amount of commitment as traditional courses do, so make sure to schedule in study sessions and, if you can, try to find a strong WiFi signal!