March 12, 2010, Newsletter Issue #199: Computer configuration requirements for online study

Tip of the Week

Technology requirements vary from university to university, but there are some basic requirements you need in order to successfully participate in an online degree program.

1. Operating system. You should be running a recent version of your operating system (either Windows 2000/ME/XE or Macintosh OS X). Be aware that even though many online courses are designed to support both the Windows and Macintosh operating systems, some are not.
2. Processing speed, memory and storage space. Online courses may require having a number of applications open at once, placing a heavy load on your computer processor. Be sure your computer has at least 500 MHz of processor speed, 128 MB of memory and 500 MB of available space to store programs and documents.
3. Other hardware. Because you may need to listen to lectures or other audio material from your computer, you will need a sound card, speakers and a microphone. You will also need a printer to print out course materials.
4. Web browsers. Though some online courses may be designed to run well under Netscape or Firefox, Internet Explorer is still the standard browser that most people use. Download the most recent version of your browser by using the help menu to check for updates. Online courses generally require you to enable cookies and Javascript.
5. Internet connection. While you can take online courses if you have a dial-up connection, and many people do, a broadband connection will provide a quicker, more seamless experience. Also, a broadband connection will not tie up your telephone line while you are in class.

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