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Module B ButtonTopic B2.1: Orienting Students to Online Technologies

Technology Requirements
Before they register for an online course, students need to know the specific technology required for them to take that course. Usually, the college hosting the course provides information about these requirements, but sometimes questions about online technologies come to the instructor to deal with and explain. Instructors don’t need to be computer experts, but they should be able to answer the basic questions coming from a student, and they should be able to know where a student might go to find the answer if they don’t.

Technology requirements for some online courses may go beyond the standard of support offered by the course provider. For example, if the college provides the course management system on its own server, some technical support is expected of the college, usually in the form of a help desk staffed by knowledgeable technicians who can answer questions over the phone from students who call. However, in other courses, students may be expected to use additional technologies, such as Macromedia® Flash® or Shockwave®. As a consequence, instructors may need to be knowledgeable enough with the software to be able to provide technical assistance if the college cannot help.


Learning Activity I: Student Technology Guides
Assume the role of a student planning to take your first online course. You have a computer at home, but it’s about five years old and you’re thinking about investing in a new one. Go to your college web site and search for information about the technology requirements for online courses. Is the information readily available? How long did it take you to find technical information from your college’s web site? Does your current computer measure up? Are some of your questions about technical requirements unanswered?


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