Virtual Campus Access Prerequisites

When taking an online course, students necessarily commit to taking the necessary steps to ensure they are able to participate in the course required. For the Humanities Department’s online degree programs, students must frequently be able to: use the Internet, open and run applications (e.g., browsers, web-based word processors), open and navigate to particular websites, write and respond to email messages, add attachments to email messages, create and share items in Google Drive, read and create posts in Google Groups, download and install software (e.g., browser or Adobe Flash updates). Information about performing a number of commonly required tasks is available in the programs’ technical orientation material.

Recommended Requirements

Students must also ensure they have access to computing technology with the following specifications:

  • Operating system and browser: Chrome OS or the latest version of Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux with the Google Chrome browser
  • Hardware: Hardware that exceeds the system requirements for the computer’s operating system or that was shipped from the manufacturer for use with the installed operating system
  • Peripherals: Microphone, speakers, webcam
  • Internet:
    • Speed: Upload/upstream/outbound: 2.6 mbps+; download/downstream/inbound: 4 mbps+ as confirmed at Speedtest.net
    • Quality:
      • For Chrome OS and Linux users: 0% packet loss, < 50 ms latency, and < 10 ms jitter as confirmed by the “ping” terminal command or an essentially equivalent reading as determined by your internet service provider
      • For Windows and Mac OS X users: “A” grade as confirmed at Pingtest.net

Minimum Requirements

If your computing situation does not meet the recommended requirements identified above, you should be able to participate in the programs with the following technical minimums. Users are, however, individually responsible for their own technical situations, and attempts to participate in programs near the technical minimums identified here will likely see some disruption and be responsible for properly remedying this disruption.

  • Operating system: Windows XP (SP2), Mac OS X 10.6, or Linux (Debian 7, Fedora 17, OpenSuSE 12.2, Ubuntu 12.04)
  • Hardware
    • Processor: 2 GHz dual-core Intel Pentium 4 (Windows), Intel (Mac), Intel Pentium 3 or Athlon 64 (Linux)
    • Free RAM: 128 MB
    • Free disk space: 100 MB
    • Peripherals: Microphone, speakers, webcam
  • Software: the latest version of Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari
  • Internet:
    • Speed: Upload/upstream/outbound: 300 kbps (= 0.3 mbps); download/downstream/inbound: 300 kbps (= 0.3 mbps) as confirmed at Speedtest.net
    • Quality:
      • For Chrome OS and Linux users: 0% packet loss, < 90 ms latency, and < 30 ms jitter as confirmed by the “ping” terminal command or an essentially equivalent reading as determined by your internet service provider
      • For Windows and Mac OS X users: “B” grade as confirmed at Pingtest.net

To help preclude any additional instability due to variations in WiFi signal strength, we also strongly encourage everyone to plug into hardwired ethernet connections when attending a web conference. If your system fails to run any of the tests listed above, please email scholarnet@studyliberalarts.org for assistance.

Other Information

Each student in a Humanities Department online program receives a Scholarnet account through which they can access Mail and Drive web applications (powered by Google Apps for Education). Because all members can access these web applications, no traditional word processing, presentation, or email software is required to participate in the program. Users who do not already have an office suite but, for their own convenience or preference, would still like to obtain such software are encouraged to try the following free and open-source software: Mozilla Thunderbird (for an email client) and LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org (for other productivity applications). These applications should work equally well on Windows, OS X, and Linux platforms. Alternatively, users may procure and use a fee-based office suite (e.g., Microsoft Office, WordPerfect Office), should they find it convenient and desire to do. For Mac and Windows users, Google Drive sync will allow you to synchronize desktop office suite files with your Scholarnet Drive account.