Technology Requirements for Online Learning
Certain technologies including a desktop computer or laptop, consistent internet connection, and up-to-date applications are required for effective learning online. If you are unsure of your ability to participate in classes or collaborative sessions with your classmates and teachers, consult the requirements and guidelines below. Always follow-up with an instructor if you have special requirements or limitations that may impede your ability to engage with course materials as intended.
- Internet Connection
An Internet connection is required to participate in online courses with a minimum recommended speed of 1.0Mbps. Courses with streaming video or live video interaction require higher connection speeds for optimal viewing.
- Broadband (Cable, DSL, Fiber or LAN) connection is recommended for optimal student experience.
- Wireless providers, Cellular (3G/4G) and satellite may also be used; however, it is recommended that you check if your provider has data limits or bandwidth restrictions.
- A personal or University email address.
- Supported Operating Systems
- Windows 7 and higher are supported, Windows 10 is recommended as the best option currently available.
- MAC OS X 10.9 and higher, through the most recent, 10.13 High Sierra, are supported for most online course materials, though there may be applications requiring a supported Windows Operating System. You should be prepared to run a virtual machine environment such as Parallels desktop, or VMWare fusion, with an installed and supported Windows Operating System (as mentioned above) if you elect to use a MAC.
We recommend that you have administrative rights to the computer used for your coursework so you can load software or apply updates as required. If you must use a computer over which you do not have administrative rights (such as a library or lab computer, or a workplace computer), you may experience difficulties with needed functions, such as installing plug-ins
- Productivity Tools
- Microsoft Office 2016 is available for free to all CWU students, using CWU credentials, login to Microsoft's website to download your Microsoft Office Suite.
- VLC Media Player (A free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.)
- Supported Internet Browsers
The following web browsers are supported for using Canvas. Due to the successive release cycles of some supported Internet browsers, the two latest releases of each browser are supported. Older browser versions may cause problems using course software.
MAC OS Users
Internet Explorer/Edge will work, but is typically not a preferred browser alternative.
Internet Browser Settings
The following browser settings are essential:
- Pop-Up Blocker: disabled
- Java: enabled
- Cookies: enabled
The most recent versions of the following plug-ins are required for many of the resources available in your online courses:
Plug-ins are typically, if not always free of charge. It is recommended that you review installations of the listed plug-ins, and install or update them prior to beginning your courses.
- Computer Requirements
Windows: x86 or x64 1.6-gigahertz (GHz) or higher processor; 512MB RAM
MAC: Intel Core Duo 1.83-gigahertz (GHz) or higher processor; 512MB RAM
- CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive - Some software may require a DVD drive for installation
- Hard drive: 25 GB available drive space.
- Graphics card: 64 MB RAM minimum, 256 MB RAM or higher recommended. NVIDIA, ATI, and Intel chipsets supported.
- Monitor capable of 1024x768 display
- 16 bit sound card, speakers
- Microphone headset (USB or analog connector)
- A Webcam is highly recommended: Microsoft, Logitech, and other manufacturers offer solutions in the $25-70 range that will be suitable if your course requires the use of Respondus Lockdown Browser, Panopto, or other programs.
- Additional Information and Recommendations
Your screen resolution (dimensions) should be set at 1024 x 768 or higher.
Some courses may require purchase of additional software. Oftentimes, requisite software is available at an educational discount for students. Vendors such as Adobe or Apple will provide this information and what you need to do to acquire the discount (i.e., provide evidence of university enrollment). Information about software is typically provided in the syllabus for your course.
While mobile devices (i.e., smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks) may enable completion of some coursework, they are not guaranteed to work in all situations. The safest alternative is having access to a Windows or Mac computer in the event your mobile device does not fulfill the requirements of the course.
Free office software
- Microsoft Office is available for free to all CWU students, a guide on downloading the application package is available at CWU's Service Desk Knowledgebase
- Students can purchase software applications and operating systems at academic pricing online from the Wildcat Shop.
In Firefox 3.6.x and higher you may reset these settings by clicking on Tools in the menu bar at the top of your browser. Next click on Options and find and set proper features under the Content and Privacy buttons.
Pop-Up Blockers must be turned off. If you have problems after logging into Canvas after clicking links that may open a new window, you probably have your browser set to block pop-ups. This has been occurring when students try to take tests that are set to open in a new window. In this case a blank page appears after the link is clicked to take the test. Blocking of pop-ups is something you can turn on or off if you have Internet Explorer 6.02 or higher. To turn it off go to Tools menu-->Pop-up Blocker-->Turn Off Pop-up Blocker. If you don't have this option in the Tools Menu please go Tools Menu-->Window Update to update your browser
Taking Online Tests
Your instructor may set up quizzes or tests in your Canvas course site. To reduce the possibility of technical problems, here are some good practices to follow:
- Clear your browser cache and cookies (Mac or PC). This reduces the chance that older web pages or data may interfere with your quiz responses.
- Take the quiz from a wired (not wireless) Internet connection. This lowers your chance of losing data if the connection drops for some reason (Canvas does save your data if you lose connection, but better to be safe than sorry).
- Plan to complete the quiz or test in one session.