Q&A: How Do I Resolve Technical Issues with Online Courseware?

Answer: In our culture, we depend on technology for almost everything. This includes personal/social, career and academic responsibilities. Unfortunately, technology isn't always dependable, and this includes the online classroom.

As an online student, there are a few reasons you may have technical issues, such as browser incompatibility; difficulty with your Internet connection; and/or school/class technical difficulties.

All courses are designed to be more compatible with a specific browser(s). Browsers are what you use to access the Internet, for example:

  • Microsoft's Internet Explorer
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Apple's Safari

When you register for school, ask your academic or student advisor which browser is most compatible with the courses. Using a less compatible browser may result in missing information, a delay in submitting assignments or difficulty communicating in the course. The browsers listed above are the most common and free. They are also easily downloaded.

A second reason a student may have technical issues is lack of reliable Internet source or connection. Common ways to connect to the Internet are dial-up; broadband (wireless); and satellite. Dial-up Internet means your computer is connected through your home phone; this connection tends to be the slowest, with a lot of interruptions. Some telephone services provide DSL access to the Internet through a dedicated line. Broadband has different meanings but can include accessing the Internet through your cable provider. Wireless broadband users can often move about the house, using the Internet without cables and cords. This connection is more reliable and faster. Satellite Internet is available in areas where broadband is not. This service is provided through telecommunications satellites and also slower than broadband.

Not everyone has the option or access to broadband or wireless Internet. In these cases, you want to dedicate more time to being in the digital classroom, to plan for disconnections. Also, students may want to do as much as they can, off-line. For example, you may want to write your responses or assignments in Microsoft Word and then copy and paste to avoid interruptions.

A third reason for technical issues may be platform issues. The platform refers to the system used for the online class. Just like our personal computers, the platform may have technical issues or need updating. In most cases, the college/university is immediately aware and the problems are usually resolved quickly. If the platform is being updated, the school may send an email to students and/or instructors giving them advanced warning of course downtime.

When class begins, students should write down (or put in their phones):

  1. Instructor's name
  2. Instructor's email and phone number
  3. Course name and number

If you have access to the Internet, but cannot access the course, call your school's technical support. They can tell you if the platform is down or updating. If you are personally having technical issues, contact your instructor.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!