Online Education

What about the technology?

All online courses require access to the Internet. Unless you will be travelling to a campus computer lab, you need to have access to your own computer and Internet Service Provider. High-speed internet access is recommended, as you may have some files or online programs that will not work well on a dial-up connection. You may also find it necessary (or recommended) that you have a webcam and a microphone for your computer.

To be successful in an online or hybrid online course, you need to have some comfort in using technology, and the ability to quickly learn to navigate online. Your professor may have specific technology requirements, but here are some basics:

Technology Proficiency

You should be proficient in the following:

  • basic computer skills
  • using a web browser
  • sending and receiving email
  • using a word processing program
  • experience/familiarity with different file formats, especially .rtf "Rich Text Format", .doc or .docx "Microsoft Word Document", and .txt "Text document"
  • sending and receiving attachments via email
  • downloading software and/or documents
  • familiarity with plug-ins (e.g. PDF reader, flash)
  • online searching
  • the ability to be self-directed in learning new technology skills (this may involve following a handout, a step-by-step tutorial, online video help, or access to support or a directed workshop to learn necessary skills.)

Minimum computer standards (for existing machines):


Windows Desktop Minimum Configuration

* Pentium 4 processor or equivalent
* Windows XP and above
* 60 Gig Hard Drive or larger
* 512 MB RAM or more
* CDROM drive
* 10/100 Ethernet adaptor
* Web Browser - Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 3
* Microsoft Office 2003 or later
* Anti-Virus software - provided by GVSU if living in on campus housing
* Anti-Spyware (recommended)

Macintosh Minimum Configuration

* 1.8GHz Intel/PowerPC (G5) 1.6GHz
* 1 GB of RAM
* OSX 10.4 (10.5 preferred)
* 120 gig HD
* 10/100 Ethernet Card and/or Airport Wireless
* Speakers
* Safari, Firefox
* Anti-virus software
* MS Office 2004

For new computers, Information Technology lists the recommended standards. It is also helpful to get in the habit of checking for announcements regarding Blackboard on the log-in screen or on your portal once you have logged-in. You will find important notices about using Blackboard posted there.


Blackboard Tutorial - learn to navigate Blackboard within the GVSU environment

Computers: Getting Personal with Computers - introductory information and links to support tutorials

Web Technology Information: A Primer - links that provide "a good foundation for using the web" and existing online technologies

Internet 101 - a comprehensive site, but with advertising

Guide to Web Search - improve your search strategies

Glossary - definitions for many of the technology terms you encounter


What's next?

Getting Started

Page last modified March 24, 2014