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Distance Learning Technology: Navigating a New Classroom

You just found out you will be transitioning to online study and want to make sure you are successful.  

Don’t worry. Chances are, you are in better shape than you think.  

Let’s start by making sure you have the technology to succeed.  

Basic Technology Requirements of Online Study 

  1. A stable internet connection to access material and submit assignments daily. 
  2. A device to access your courses daily. I strongly recommend using a desktop or laptop computer. A tablet with a keyboard may work, but a smart phone is not a viable long-term solution. 
  3. Ask your instructor if you need to use audio, video, or other applications. 

What if I am lacking basic technology requirements?  

Do not plan to access internet in public spaces. Several internet providers have opened options for free or reduced-cost internet 

  • ComCast: boosting speeds and offering 60-day free trial for its internet Essentials program. 
  • AT&T: waiving internet data overage for customers without unlimited home internet plans. Its Access program offers $10/month internet data to qualifying limited income households.  
  • Spectrum: 60-day free internet for student households without current Spectrum broadband subscription.  

Still without basic requirements? Ask your advisor about options. Your campus is working hard to find a solution that will allow you to study. You are certainly not alone. Stay up to date on your campuses’s response to Coronavirus. 

Do I need to download any apps to take a class online?  

It depends on your instructor.  

  • They may ask you to download video-conferencing software like ZOOM or Skype. Both offer free downloads for most devices. 
  • You also may be expected to watch video or open PDF’s. 
  • Download Microsoft Office Suite for free through your campus. Contact your Campus Helpdesk for campus resources.  

You may enjoy the app for your Learning Management System (LMS) that is available for smart phones. You can use the smart phone app to check deadlines or grades, but don’t use it to complete or submit assignments.  

I’m doing research for a project; don’t I need the library for that?  

You sure do… but don’t panic! As a SUNY student, you have access to online libraries and support. Find your SUNY campus library resources.  

What else do I need to know about online learning?  

  • Communication is everything. Check your campus email at least once a day.   
  • Log into the LMS daily.   
  • If you have questions, email your professor immediately. Follow up if you don’t hear back within 48 hours. 
  • Your campus technology center and help desk can solve almost anything. Many even provide videos to help orient you to online learning.   
  • Explore your new classroom. Your instructors may have different online classroom styles. Become familiar with them.  
  • Know where to locate the important parts of your course. This includes discussion boards, announcements, syllabus, readings, assignments, and submission boxes, and tests.