Student Technology Requirements for Online Learning

Sheri K. Barksdale, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, Assistant Professor of American Sign Language
Brian Hunter, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, Assistant Professor of Spanish

A factor that has a great degree of variability is the online component of online learning.  Students do not know if their internet speed is enough if their computer is adequate, or what their workspace should have.  By providing our learners with a student technology checklist, they have a starting point.  We require this checklist be completed prior to the first meeting of the online class.  It is just one component of the student readiness activities which are completed during the first week of the semester.  With the student technology checklist, our online learners will have gained information and ideas on how they should improve their online learning environment.

The first section, “To-Do right away,” gives students specific tasks to do in order to check their internet and computer.  When students indicate that they are having connectivity problems, they are referred to go through this checklist.  For some students, internet and computer access are not always available. Therefore, students need to inquire at their school to see if they can be loaned an internet hotspot or computer for the semester or academic year.  Ideally, it is best if students have the necessary internet connection and computer prior to the first week of class, so they are not faced with frustration and fall behind.  Students are encouraged to document the internet speed test, several times.  They are then able to address factors, such as others working online, gaming or streaming videos, that could be slowing down the internet connection. It may become evident that both students and instructors need to increase their internet speed or negotiate internet use with other members at home. After reviewing these items, the students are expected to be ready for the first scheduled virtual class meeting.  

The second section covers the specifics related to the learning management system in regard to class meetings.  Students are provided links on the Learning Management System that connects them to their virtual class, or workgroup, meeting.  For each meeting, students are provided a specific link to where they will meet. 

The third section encompasses virtual class meetings.  Students are expected to be involved in class and have their video open and be ready to take notes.  This is a new experience for students and their families.  Students may need to be reminded that they are not “watching” a class, rather they are participating in a class.  Teachers must inform students of appropriate behaviors for taking part in the class.  If students respect that they are in class, people in their environment should honor that they are attempting to actively participate virtually. For example, it is tempting for family members to hold conversations or make requests with students during class. 

Students are asking for guidance to lead them to success.  In providing this checklist to students, they have concrete tasks to perform before the course begins and ways to troubleshoot during the course.  This is one way to optimize the learning experience outside of the classroom walls and help students to be as prepared as possible for the important task of course participation.

 

Student Technology Checklist

To-Do Immediately – Before the first class meeting

  • Call your Internet Service Provider 
    • Ask them to carry out a connection check to make sure there are no errors on your line.
    • Ask if they provide a free service upgrade since you’re a college student doing classes online.
  • Connect your laptop or PC directly to the router with an Ethernet cord.
  • Turn off unnecessary devices that may be using your Internet connection.
  • Ask that others in your home limit their Internet use during your class time.
  • Check your internet speed at speedtest.net  Write down your results for 3 days, different times of day, is there anything different happening in your home?
    • Day 1 upload ______, download _______, ping _______, others online _____
    • Day 2 upload ______, download _______, ping _______, others online _____
    • Day 3 upload ______, download _______, ping _______, others online _____
  • Download the Zoom software link here prior to your first class meeting.

Class Meetings Procedure 

  1. Update your computer when you are notified to do so.
  2. Restart your computer just prior to class, this really does help to get rid of glitches.
  3. Use Google Chrome as your web browser, other web browsers do not work well with Canvas.
  4. Check your course schedule to see when you will meet on Zoom and when you will meet in Teams color groups.  
  5. Go to Zoom, and make sure you can connect.
  6. Go to Teams, and check for which group you are in.

Class Meetings Checklist

  1. Have your classroom materials, and a notebook and pen to take notes.
  2. Mute your microphone when not speaking.
  3. Use earbuds or a headset to decrease echo and background noise.
  4. Dress as if you are coming to class.
  5. Go to a private area in your home.
  6. Video turned on and be visible on the screen, so hands can be seen (if in ASL class).
  7. Have adequate lighting so you can be clearly seen.
  8. Place a window or a light source behind you to present a shadow across your face. 
  9. Place computer on a table or a desk.  (please not on your lap or on a bed)
  10. Sit in a chair, not reclined in bed or in an easy chair.
  11. Don’t forget that the camera is on, even when someone else is presenting.
  12. Stay in the target language when in breakout rooms.
  13. Do not use filters, memes and Gifs during class.
  14. Ask a question or make a comment by: 
  • unmuting your microphone
  • giving your name
  • asking question/giving comment 
  • muting microphone
  • typing QUESTION in the chatbox, and writing your question if you have a question during a lecture.

More points may be added as the term progresses, in order to make this the best class experience possible for you.