0.2 - The Technology for Online Learning

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image of a variety of technology device plugsThere is nothing more frustrating than when technology gets in the way!

So, before you take begin working in your online course, make absolutely sure that you have the right technologies in place.  We all know that technology changes all the time, so, in addition, we all must try to do our best to keep up!

To get you started, here is a priority checklist for you to go through carefully. 


  1. A Computer that Meets the Minimum Technical Requirements
  2. A Reliable Internet Connection
    • Relying on the internet connection in Starbucks or Taco Bell simply will not cut it!  Especially for any exams, quizzes or homework assignments that may be timed, you will want make sure that your internet connection is reliable and that your work will be saved when you hit 'Submit'!  If you are traveling and the reliability of your internet connection is unknown, don't hesitate to let your instructor know.  It is always better to know beforehand than to have to react to a situation after it occurs.  In some courses tests are proctored remotely through Examity.  Connection to network with sufficient internet speed of at least 2 Mbps download speed and 2 Mbps upload is required.  You can test your internet speed at www.speedtest.net.
  3. The Required Statistical Software
    • Most of the online courses will require you to have access to various statistical software packages.  Whenever possible, download and install this on your local computer BEFORE it is needed in the course so that you can ensure that has loaded properly and you are all set to go!
    • It is important also to have software, whenever possible, installed on your own computer. It is very difficult to troubleshoot problems if you are working via a remote server.
    • Carefully review the Department of Statistic's Statistical Software page for information about how to access a copy of these applications as well as if there are any special technical requirements.

Support Resources / Additional Information

The four pages that follow provide specific information that you should review carefully.

Technical Requirements for Online Courses

This table lists the recommended technical requirements for the computers you will use to access our online course materials and the other hardware that you might need.  Careful review now will make for less frustration later!

Statistical Software

When you find out what statistical package your course will involve using, this is the page that will provide you with both the necessary requirements to run these applications but also how to acquire a copy of the software.

Editing your Canvas profile

Canvas is Penn State's course management system.  All of the course communication and links to materials goes through Canvas.  Learn a few tricks that will make your use of  Canvas more efficient and set it up so that it is easy for others to collaborate with you.

Support and Technical Help

This is technology right?!  This means we all will get stuck, it is only a matter of when!  When  you do get stuck - who do you call?  This page has the answers for you.  Contact information for the various help desks at Penn State.  The moment you feel like you are spending too much time trying to solve a technical problem, then you probably should have already contacted someone at the help desk.  They are the experts and have experience with all kinds of questions and set ups.  Don't be afraid to reach out!