How Online Learning Works
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Prior to Enrollment
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Orientation for Online Learners
Computer Hardware & Software Guidelines
Please note that these are minimum requirements, and that our online courses will work more effectively with higher capabilities.
The following recommended specifications suit most our online programs:
- Processor: Student computers should have a Pentium IV processor, with a processor speed of 800 MHz.
- RAM: Computer memory is directly affected by how many programs are running at any given time. Running multiple applications at once slows a computer’s performance. Therefore, we recommend students have at least 256 Mb of RAM installed.
- Sound: A working sound card and speakers will be required. Some programs also require a headset & microphone.
- Modem: A 56 Kbps modem can be used with our online programs. We do however recommend using a high-speed connection such as DSL or a cable modem.
- Disk Drive: A CD-Rom drive is required for some software installation and program materials.
- Monitor: A monitor with a minimum 800 x 600 resolution is required. It is recommended that students have a monitor with at 1024 x 768 or more.
- Printer: When you login to your online course(s) you will find your syllabi, articles and assignments. The majority of students find access to a printer imperative. While you may feel comfortable accessing documents online, having a hard copy of the course syllabus can prove useful. Also, having the ability to take notes and highlight main points in assigned readings can help you when studying and/or completing research projects.
- Disk Space: 2 GB of disk space is required for software installation. Certain software components are required for full functionality of our online programs. To run an automatic system check, visit our browser compatibility page.
- Firefox is recommended for viewing all online courses in Blackboard. Other Internet browsers include Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari. Download Firefox for free here.
- Microsoft Office is required.
- A Windows operating system is recommended, and our learning system works best for Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Many of our students may have new computers with Windows Vista installed. Blackboard has not yet been certified for use with MS Windows Vista.
- Some programs will work on Macintosh OS X platform. For students using a Macintosh
computer, the following specifications should be met:
- Mac OS X 10.2 or better (Leopard not yet validated)
- Mac OS X 10.2 for use with Safari 1.0
- Mac OS X 10.3 for use with Safari 1.1 or 1.2
We also have a one-stop-shop plug-in library in our Online Community. If you would like to be part of our online community for distance learners, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students will need access to the Internet to connect to the online courses. It is strongly recommended that students subscribe to a high-speed online service provider such as DSL or Cable Internet. The Internet connection is critical in viewing Tegrity video lectures in Blackboard.
Know your "Internet speed"?
Some of WKU’s online courses use video clips. To watch videos online, a certain amount of data must be transmitted to your computer in a timely manner.
The speed that the data can be sent to you is called your "Internet speed". YouTube and most other videos are encoded with at least a 256Kbps (kilobits per second) rate/speed.
Here are the approximate speeds of the common types of Internet Service Providers:
- Dial-up internet - 56 bps (from phone co.)
- DSL internet - 768 kbps+ (from phone co.)
- Cable internet - 1,000-10,000+ kbps (from cable co.)
So you can see that watching video on the internet with a dial-up connection won’t work very well, the video will probably pause frequently to let more data arrive.
You will also note that DSL and Cable connections are more than adequate to watch most online videos.
So... how fast is your connection?
Visit www.bandwidthplace.com/. Do the test and write down your Download and Upload speeds. Knowing this will help the help desk (and your instructor) assist you if you are having problems.
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