Online Degree Universities

Thinking about enrolling in an online university, but not quite sure if your technology skills are up to par? While you don’t have to be a technology expert to successfully learn online, you do need to be comfortable using a computer and navigating online environments.

Here’s a quick look at the basic skills and tech requirements you’ll need to ensure success with online learning.

Hardware and Software

Most online universities will provide a list of specific hardware and software requirements, but there are some basic you should also consider. For example:

  • What Will You Be Using as Your Primary Computer? If you’re using a desktop or laptop computer (Mac OS or Windows), you’re in good shape. If you’re planning to use a gaming console, tablet, or smartphone as your primary device, you might want to rethink your options. Mobile devices can be good for certain aspects of your online education (videos, message boards, chat, etc.), but it might be challenging to complete a research paper on one.
  • How Old Is Your Primary Computer, Its Operating System, and General Programs? If your computer or its operating system is more than 5 years old, consider updating them for a more efficient experience. You’ll likely need recent versions of general programs for creating and editing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets (e.g., Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel) as well.
  • How Many People Have Access to Your Computer? It’s best to work on a computer that only you have access to, for safety and security of your coursework, as well as availability. But using a family computer can be okay, too, as long as you securely save your files and have access when needed. Public computers, like the ones available at the library or shared workspaces, can present too many challenges (access, file storage, security) to be useful for pursuing an online degree.

If you think you might need to upgrade your computer or its software, check with the online school you plan to attend for their specific tech requirements. Your school might also offer educational discounts on new technology via their online bookstore.

Computer Skills

You’ll want to have some basic computer skills before committing to an online degree program. For example, how fast is your typing? You don’t have to type over 60 words per minute, but you should definitely be comfortable with a keyboard—you’ll be spending a lot of time together

You should also be familiar with basic skills like word processing, creating presentations, installing and updating software, running virus scans, saving and retrieving files, and trouble-shooting Internet access.

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