Technology Requirements for Online Learners
Computer Hardware & Software Guidelines
Please note that these are minimum requirements. Online courses will work more effectively with higher capabilities.
We recommend the following specifications for 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 may be used; however, we recommend using a high-speed connection such as DSL or a cable modem.
- Disk Drive: A CD-Rom drive may be 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 online courses. 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 and is available for free to WKU students. To access your free download visit the WKU Software Center.
- A Windows operating system is recommended, and our learning system works best Windows 7. Desktop versions of Vista and Windows 8 are also supported
- Some programs will work on Macintosh OSX platforms. For students using a Macintosh
computer, the following specifications should be met along with Safari 5.1:
- Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
- Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)
- Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)
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.
You will need access to the internet to for your online courses. High-speed internet, such as DSL or cable is strongly recommended. Your internet connection is critical in viewing Tegrity video lectures in Blackboard.
Tegrity is the lecture capture software officially supported by the university. Tegrity is used to deliver videos for you to watch online, and is also available for student use when virtual presentations are required. Please visit the link below to see the most up to date information for computer configuration for using Tegrity.
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.)
As you can see, watching a 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 IT Help Desk (and your instructor) assist you if you are experience problems.
Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,