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So, You’re Ready for Your Online Course. Is Your Computer?

So, You’re Ready for Your Online Course. Is Your Computer?

Technology innovations have advanced the online education market making it more accessible and easy-to-use than ever before. However, some distance learners will log on and discover that their software and hardware is outdated. Take a look at the latest technology requirements for online programs to make sure your computer is ready for your new educational venture!

Technology Requirements for Online Education

Your online institution will likely provide software and hardware requirements prior to the course start date. Double-check requirements to ensure your technology meets standards.

Operating Systems (OS)

Personal computers (PC) should use Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7. Newer operating systems offer up-to-date security updates and run the latest programs, such as Office.

Memory Space

Most schools prefer online students to have a computer with 2 or 3 gigabytes (GB) of RAM. You should have a 100GB hard drive with at least 500 megabytes (MB) of free space, and your processor should run at a speed of at least 1.8GHz.


Many instructors use audio to interact with students. Make sure your computer has a sound card, speakers and a microphone.

The Mac User

Mac users should have OS 10.5 Leopard installed on their computer, which requires a newer computer with an Intel processer. Mac users should have at least 1GB of RAM and a minimum of 500MB of free space on a 100GB or larger hard drive. Mac users also need a sound card, speakers and a microphone.

Supplemental Hardware Requirements

The remote nature of online courses offers more adult students access to an education. Technology has created ways for distance learners to achieve the traditional face-to-face classroom experience virtually. Many online courses require students to have access to a webcam so they can participate in video conferences with classmates. Many computers have webcams built into them. You can purchase webcams at a minimal cost.

Your computer should also have a DVD drive that can read various optical media. Many textbooks come with an instructional DVD that instructors often use to supplement online lessons and student meetings.

Software Requirements

Online students need a computer equipped with the software and tools needed to help them succeed in their degree program. All online students should have Microsoft Office installed on their computer and an antivirus system to protect their computer from viral attacks. Instructors often “zip” files to compress large documents and speed up file transfers. Make sure you computer includes an unzipping utility, QuickTime or Windows Media Player for viewing multimedia files and class notes. Students can use a variety of Web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari.

Bandwidth Speeds Up Online Courses

Many schools require broadband Internet connection because webcams and conferencing demand faster connectivity rates. The recommended speed for optimal performance in online learning is about 5 megabits per second, which will ensure video and voice conferencing activities operate smoothly.

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