Basic Computer Skills and Preparation

Online students must have basic computer skills in order to effectively participate in and complete their online courses. Students without the proper computer skills may be distracted trying to navigate the mechanics of the online course system which could detract from their ability to successfully complete their coursework. To ensure they are able to focus on the content and assignments, basic computer skills are an absolute must for students taking online courses.

Below you will find some tips on basic computer skills and preparation:

Make Sure You Have Regular Access to a Computer and the Internet

This seems like an obvious tip for the online learner since a computer is such an integral part of the online classroom, but it is worth stressing. Students who don’t have regular access to a computer often fall behind very quickly and find it difficult to catch up.

Test Your System

As soon as you are able to log in to the Learning Management System, do so. Even if your course may not yet be available to you, there are many things you can do to prepare for your online experience. Most Learning Management Systems have an area where you can test your computer setup to make sure that it is compatible with their system. It will make sure that the browser you are using is supported and check for pop-up blockers and cookie settings. If your system needs to be adjusted, you will also find instructions how to fix issues in this area or you can contact the help desk. The important thing is to make sure your computer is ready before you begin your course.

Work to Improve Your Computer Skills if Needed

As was stated earlier, when you begin an online course you should be focusing on the course material, not on the mechanics of how the course works. If you find yourself in a position where you need extra assistance learning computer-related tasks, there are many places for you to get help. The additional resources page lists sites that can help with ideas to improve your skills in this area. Probably the best strategy to go with is “if you don’t know how to do it, Google it;” there is a wealth of information on the internet including online tutorials, how-to videos, and printable documentation. Also, if you have the time, you could enroll in a computer class either online or face-to-face. There are many non-credit opportunities that focus on a particular skill or topic related to technology. Lastly, you may have a friend or relative who is technologically savvy. Ask them for help with the basics and take notes. Create your own how-to document for future reference.

Ideally, you should improve your computer skills prior to the beginning of your course. You do not want to wait until the course begins to simultaneously learn the content of the course as well as the technology involved. Also be sure to go through the Computer Skills section.

Participate in the Student Orientation if One is Provided

Most Learning Management Systems (LMS) offer some form of student orientation on the LMS Home Page. Many courses, in fact, require students to complete the orientation as the first activity in the course. The orientation works to familiarize students with the basic navigation of a course and walks them through some of the more common functions that they will be performing such as submitting to a dropbox, participating in a discussion, and taking an exam.

Know Where to Go For Help If You Need It

Make sure that you know where you can get assistance with technical issues that may arise. Write down the contact information of the help desk and keep it next to your computer. Also, if you have a technical issue during a crucial online activity, such as taking an exam, be sure to contact the help desk immediately. It will make it much easier for them to help you if you call at the moment you are having the problem.