In another article I shared with you the basics of hardware requirements for your included making sure the processor speed was sufficient and ensuring that you have enough temporary memory and local hard drive space. Today’s topic is less vital, as there is much room for flexibility, but there are still a few simple things a student will want to consider before diving into their online course.

Probably the most vital of the several pieces of hardware I will talk about today are the speakers and microphone. As most online college courses utilize audio and video media to teach their lessons, you’re gonna need some speakers or earphones that don’t crackle or pop or you may just snap trying to listen to your lessons because of the speakers. A simple set is not too difficult to find if your computer does not already have them. You can get some from a secondhand store for cheap. Even purchasing a new set is not too pricey.

In addition to the speakers instructors in some online classes will ask you to participate in conference calls over the Internet. Sometimes laptops have built-in microphones, but your best quality of communication is going to come through an inexpensive headset. If you’re spending over $20-$25 you’re most likely paying too much.

The next piece of hardware to consider if your classes are going to be live and interactive will be the WebCam. Many newer laptops have built-in WebCams but if you need to go out and purchase one just make sure you talk to a sales person to verify that the WebCam you’re considering is compatible with your computer’s operating system. The online university you are attending should also be able to give you suggestions on which WebCams are working for other students in which one may be right for you. An additional use for WebCam in online schools is to verify your identity when using a product or service for your tests.

Lastly, and most likely a no-brainer (but you never know), is to make sure that you have a monitor. I guess more important than a monitor is making sure that your screen’s resolution is up to par with your online class’ requirements. Screen resolution is measured in pixels. Pixels are little dots of color that combine to display images on your screen. The number of pixels from left to right and the number of pixels from top to bottom combine to give you your computer’s resolution. Most computers will be able to display a 1024 x 768 resolution just fine and this will be okay for just about any course. Your resolution settings will most likely only be an issue if you are taking graphic design or other visually oriented class that requires a very detailed display of images.

So to wrap up in addition to a good processor, RAM and hard drive double check that your monitor, speakers or headphones and microphone and WebCam meet your online college class requirements.

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