Being A Successful Online Learner – Technology Considerations

As an online student, your computer becomes your primary interface to your courses, your instructor, and your fellow students. In order to effectively use this interface, it will need to meet certain minimal requirements. If it cannot perform the functions you need to complete a class, you will have to make the effort to appropriately upgrade your computer equipment.

Hardware

Most online courses will allow you to use the operating system of your choice. Windows-based PC’s and Macintosh systems are the most popular operating systems on personal computers, and often one or both of these are the only systems supported or endorsed by education providers.Regardless of your preferred platform, most educational providers will have specific minimal requirements for your hardware. Be sure your system meets these requirements before you enroll in the course.

Software

Similarly, certain software may be required to access course information, retrieve course components, work collaboratively, or interact with instructors and other students. These software requirements will almost always be made explicit to you at the beginning of your course. If you are not given specific software requirements, be sure to ask what software and version you will need to obtain, install, or learn during a given course. A current Web browser will almost always be a requirement for accessing course materials. Internet Connection

As an online learner, you’ll be doing a lot of work using the Internet, including reading course materials, research, and interacting with fellow students and instructors. The speed at which you connect to the Internet can affect how productive you are, how well you are able to fulfill your assignments, and how satisfied you will be with your online course experience.

This connection speed is measured and commonly referred to as bandwidth (though the label is technically inaccurate). The theory is simple: the higher your bandwidth, the quicker you will receive and send data over the Internet.

Whether you are using a dial-up modem, cable modem or DSL connection, or fiber optic network, it’s helpful to know how fast your connection is and whether your course will require a minimum connection speed.

The following links may help you determine your existing bandwidth and options for increasing your speed of access to the Internet.

**It is your responsibility to find an alternate internet access resource if yours is disrupted or unavailable (such as an internet cafe, public library, local college, or friend/family.**

About Internet Connection Speeds -

http://www.pcpitstop.com/internet/intspeed_about.asp

Broadband 101: Speed Comparison -

https://www.ibuybroadband.com/ibb2/know-speedcomp.asp

How fast is fast? -

http://www.backe.com/slides/bandwidthmo.html

Bandwidth basics: a comparison of connection speeds -

http://www.wesonline.com/techsystems/bandwidth.htm