Online classes offer a lot of benefits. They can help you gain knowledge and skills for your career. They’re flexible and convenient. They also don’t require the typical classroom school supplies. Kiss those No. 2 pencils and calculators goodbye! Books that you once lugged around can now be downloaded to an app. But to get the most out of your online classes, you’ll need to start with the right technology. Here are the digital tools you’ll need to succeed:
Use a Computer for Online Classes, Not a Mobile Device
You’ll need a functional computer that is less than five years old. And while you may be tempted to use a tablet or smartphone, don’t give into the temptation. You might be able to access your email or get onto your student portal through them, but you’ll likely hit stumbling blocks around functionality, compatibility, and storage. Here are some other components you’ll need on that computer:
- Intel I3 Processor or higher
- Minimum 4 GB of RAM
- At least two dependable web browsers
- Operating Systems
- PC users: Windows 8 or Windows 10
- Mac users: OS X 10 – version 10.8x or newer
- Media Player
- PC users: Windows Media Player
- Mac users: Apple QuickTime
- Sound card and computer speakers
- Microsoft Office 365
- Adobe Reader
High-Speed Internet Access
You’re taking an online program, so you need to get online every time you try. You want to be able to connect wirelessly to your web portal quickly, watch lecture videos smoothly, and receive emails promptly. A speed of 30 mbps is best, but you should have a speed of at least 1.5 mbps. If your Internet speed is slow, you can always close out extra browsers, ask other family members to disconnect from the wifi, or sit close to the modem to speed it up a bit.
And if your home internet isn’t cutting it, have a backup plan. Schools, work sites, public libraries and even cafes all have wireless internet for their patrons.
Microphone and Webcam
In online classes, it’s common for instructors to create digital forums or online discussions. Sometimes an instructor will also host an activity or guest lecturer through these platforms. This means you’ll need to download the instructor’s video conference software, such as Zoom or WebX. They’re free for you and take only seconds to install. You’ll also need a microphone and webcam. Most new computers have them built in, but you can also buy a webcam with a built-in microphone if you have a computer that doesn’t have either.
Do you need some peace and quiet while you work? If you struggle to find a quiet place in your house to complete your coursework and homework, use noise-cancelling headphones to keep your focus on your studies.
Once you have your technology lined up, you’re almost ready to dive into your classes. But before you get started, you should also make sure that you have a few apps that will help you stay organized. To start, make sure you have a good calendar or planner app that can help you keep track of your schedule as well as upcoming deadlines. An added bonus are apps that allow for push or pop-up notifications that can automatically remind you of what’s coming up. You’ll also want to use a good note-taking app, or at the very least, a word processing software that can help you save and maintain your digital notes. Finally, make sure you have a timer app that can help you stay on schedule.
Online classes are much easier to navigate when you have the right tools and technology in place. But it also helps when you have 24-hour access to tech support and staff that wants to help you succeed. At Charter College, we provide this kind of support to all of our students through our eLearning portal. Call 888-200-9942 to learn more about our online programs.