What Type of Computer Do I Need to Study Online?

In the past decade, distance learning has gained immensely in popularity. Whether it’s for convenience, flexibility or cost, many students are choosing to earn their degrees online. While it’s often said that all you need to study online is a computer with Internet access, it’s a little more involved than that. Read below to learn what type of computer you need to study online.

What is Involved With Distance Learning?

Distance learning is what the name implies. Rather than driving to school, you’re learning from a distance – over the Internet. Online learning allows you the convenience and flexibility to learn at your own pace. You’ll be part of a virtual classroom and will receive and submit assignments or exams through e-mail, webcams, DVDs, videotapes, printed material or other forms of animation, according to the Distance Learner’s Guide, which also offers helpful information on Web browsers. You’ll be able to interact with your instructors through e-mail or chat. Distance or online learning allows you to log into your courses 24/7.

Are You Computer Savvy?

While you don’t need to be a computer technician to study online, it’s beneficial for you to be somewhat familiar with computers and how they operate. You’ll quickly learn terms like download, upload, firewall and anti-virus, among others. You’ll also need to have knowledge of how to operate certain equipment such as headphones, webcams, CD/DVD players, zip drives, and must be familiar with email functions such as sending and downloading attachments. Studying online can become fun and motivating once you’ve mastered these few simple things.

Technical Requirements

A computer with Internet access is the start of what you’ll need as an online student; however, there are other requirements. Although it varies by school and programs, online studying usually requires the following:

• High-speed Internet access with an e-mail account
• A supported operating system such as Windows XP, Windows 7 or Mac OS X 10.6
• Supported Internet browser such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari
• Plugins such as Adobe Flash Player, Java v7 or higher, RealPlayer, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Apple Quick Time Player
• Anti-virus software and personal firewall

Additionally, your computer should meet specific requirements, which may also vary by program.

• Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD 3 GHz processor or better
• At least 3 GB of RAM
• CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive
• Hard drive with at least 160 GB
• Monitor and graphics card capable of 1027X768 display
• Stereo sound card, speakers and microphone
• Webcam

As you can see, studying online can be very challenging at times, but it does not require you to be a computer guru. Distance learning is a great way to gain knowledge or even earn a degree despite a busy schedule. Because distance learning doesn’t require driving to and from college, you can choose almost any online college you want. If you’re uncertain as to what interests you, check out the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The NCES shows all the top schools offering online programs and allows you to filter by location, field of study and level of degree. If earning a degree has always been your dream, check into online courses today and, if necessary, start computer shopping tomorrow!

For more information on other topics, check out “When Higher Education Does Not Pay Off“.