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Computers, Internet Connections & Browsers

Please read this information very carefully. Most Helpdesk calls are from students whose computers do not meet the technology requirements!

1) Access to Computer | Internet Connection

If you are taking online courses, you must have access to a computer. However, simply having a computer is not enough; your computer must meet certain requirements to support an online course at our College. Computer labs are available on campus, but it is difficult to take a distance education course without having a computer and high-speed internet connection at home or on our campus.

It’s all about speed! For the most part, bigger and faster is better. Computer speed is measured by the size of the CPU (Central Processing Unit) in Megahertz (MHz) or Gigahertz (GHz) such as 1.8 GHz or 3.0 GHz. Requirements change quickly as the internet changes. For the most part, if you have a computer that is less than three years old, it should be fast enough to manage our online course system and its content.

Another measure of a computer’s ability to perform quickly when browsing the internet is the amount of memory or RAM (measured in Megabytes or MB). Your computer will perform much better with the online course applications if you have at least 256MB of RAM; 512MB, 1 GB or more is even better. (Computer geeks will tell you: You can never have too much RAM).

The third measure of speed would be your modem speed and type of internet connection, though a 56K dial-up may work (but it will be very slow).

  • We do not recommend that you try to take an online course through a dial-up connection.
  • If you live in an area with access to Mediacom online, they now offer speeds 128 x faster than the 56K dial-up.
  • In some communities DSL or ADSL is now available. This provides fast connection speeds with only one phone line for both voice and Internet connection at the same time.
  • Cellular network “aircards” present some of the same problems as dial-up, are inferior to DSL or cable broadband, and can be problematic in some classes.
  • Wireless connections to the internet are faster than dial-up and also available in many communities.
  • Your local community library may be a good place to start if you don’t have a computer and need access to the internet.

ALERT for Satellite Service Users: Satellite connections, such as Wild Blue, may not fulfill the minimum technical requirements for using Blackboard Learn. You may experience timeouts, IP address issues, session problems, or course mail issues caused by latency. You should make every effort to use Blackboard Learn with a different service provider. You may have problems responding to emails, uploading attachments and more. Also, you may want to check the FAP (Fair Use Policy) of your satellite internet provider.

2) Browsers for Blackboard Learn

browser button graphic

The recommended browsers for Blackboard Learn are the current versions of Firefox, Chrome, and possibly Safari. Internet Explorer is not recommended because some Blackboard features will not appear within IE. Complete Blackboard Learn browser options can be found on the Blackboard Support website.

3) Browser check and announcements

Once you log in to Blackboard Learn, on the left side of the screen you will see an Announcements link and on the lower left a Browser Test button. You can use the Announcement link to view current and prior downtime and system problem announcements. You may use the Browser Test button to see if your current browser has all the required/optional components and third party file type add-ons that may be necessary for your class. Your instructor(s) will also let you know about any specific media requirements for their particular class.

Mobile: You can access Blackboard Learn from the browser on a tablet or phone, though you may not be able to do all class tasks like submitting assignments, joining discussions and taking tests. Blackboard also has a mobile app that you may purchase for Android and IOS devices, but even from the app not all class functions are supported.


Joseph Struss