Q&A: Software for online classes
Question: Do I need special software to attend online classes?
Answer: Online schools operate in "Online Learning Platforms." This is the actual classroom space where you will be learning. There are several different platforms for schools to choose from. However, almost all online high schools and secondary institutions have the same five requirements:
- Internet access. In order to successfully participate in class, students must have internet access and be able to utilize the school's platform. For PC users, usually the most recent version of Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer will be the best browser. MAC users go for Safari. Students may also need to access online resources, such as academic and supportive websites, videos and tutorials.
- MS Office programs. Whether you are a PC or MAC user, you will need to utilize Microsoft (MS) Office software. All classes that require essay writing, spreadsheets and tables or presentations use MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint. Windows is designed for PCs, however, MAC users can now find MS Office software.
- Personal email. Most online learning platforms have student emails connected to the platform. For example, if you need to contact your instructor or another student, you can do so through a school-assigned email address. Some schools may still use personal emails or suggest you forward your "school email" to your personal email so that you have constant access to your messages.
- Additional software. This will depend on the course requirements. Many schools are now using ebooks. This means, you don't have to physically order a textbook, because you can download the book to your computer, external hard drive or USB. Most platforms use Adobe or similar programs.
- Web conferencing. If your school offers "Live" classes, you will have to download specific software. This may require additional computer capacity. Most new computers come with a camera and microphone. However, if you are required to have a small amount of audiovisual equipment, you can buy it externally to participate.
Fortunately, being an online student requires the same technology and software that most of use in our daily lives.