Students require access to a computer, preferably a laptop, with these minimum characteristics:
- Audio capabilities with appropriate combination headset/microphone (external speakers are not acceptable as they tend to cause feedback noise).
- High-speed Internet access (download speed should be greater than 2.0mbps and Upload speed should be greater than 0.6mbps).
- Operating system: Windows 7 or newer, or MacOS X 10.6x or newer.
- Video capabilities with either a built-in or external compatible WebCam.
Candidates must have access to high-speed Internet service, preferably at home, as schools tend to have firewalls that can block many key features of these courses, such as videoconferencing.
Each student is expected to actively participate in the tutorial sessions by using their webcam and microphone, since it is easier to understand the ideas communicated by others when their facial expressions and body language can be seen, rather than just listening to them.
Basic software requirements
- Microsoft Office, Open Office or Google Docs - presentation application, spreadsheet capability and word processing.
- Web browser: Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer.
- Additional open educational resources, such as blogs and wikis.
The courses will make use of open-source software packages as much as possible. Each course instructor may also require the use of course-specific software. Although most software will be free, students will probably have to purchase some software. The cost will never represent more than the average normal cost of books associated with such studies.
Adobe Connect is a browser-based video conferencing solution that is currently used in the ESDT program. It uses a browser add-in to provide better system stability and some additional functionality such as screen sharing and access to recordings. The Connect add-in has some known incompatibilities with the Google Chrome browser; therefore, Firefox or Safari are recommended. You can also test your installation using the Adobe Connect connection test.
Required computer skills
Students must possess a minimum technical skill set that allows them to use the necessary technology used in their courses. All students should be comfortable with the use of their computer and the basic software listed above.
Adopting a flexible attitude towards digital technologies is highly important for this program. If you don’t know how to use a specific tool or affordance, use the situation as the basis for an independent problem-based learning opportunity to try to figure it out for yourself or work collaboratively with your colleagues. You should also be able to find many resources on the Internet.