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Online and Distance Education at OISE

Computer Checklist

Equipment needs and other considerations

Recommended Minimum Technical Requirements

Hardware Essentials

Computer Specs:

  • PC: Pentium 500MHz processor, 512MB Ram with Windows ME, 2000 or XP.
  • Mac: PowerPC G3 333Mhz processor, 512MB Ram with OSX-10.1.3
  • Higher is recommended to facilitate faster and smoother operations. Please contact your instructor if there are any special requests for your specific course.

Computer Access:

  • Regular/daily access to the Internet (high speed connectivity is desirable)
  • Backup:
    Have and utilize on a regular basis, a system for backing up your work, such as a memory stick, CD or DVD burner or a separate external hard drive.
  • Printer

Software Essentials 

  • Web Browser: Internet Explorer (IE) v.6x, Firefox 1.5.06, Safari 2.4 (Mac only) and Netscape 8.1 or higher. Older browser versions can be acceptable, but may have problems viewing newer technologies as the program progresses.
  • E-mail address to send and receive e-mails with attachments. To meet this requirement, ensure that you have enough free space in your e-mail account to receive e-mails and that your e-mail filters will not block messages from unknown addresses. You will be given an institutional email account upon program acceptance.
  • Word Processor capable of saving files in several formats, including: .doc, .rtf and .txt.
  • Graphic applications are beneficial for online presentations in some courses such as Power Point. Note, it is always an asset if you have some experience with other graphic or web-based programs such as Photoshop, where images can be adjusted for example – this is not essential in most courses.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 or higher (for reading .pdf files)
  • Media recommendations and/or equivalent of: QuickTime 6.0 or higher, version 7 preferred (for viewing video files) and/or Windows Media Player 9.0 or higher (for viewing video/audio files), iTunes for audio files and podcasting. These are generally free plugins available for download which allow you to view media, not create it.


Recommended Computer Ability

Candidates should have the following technical abilities:
Complete the Basic Technical Survival Skills Test Yourself Quiz if you have any concerns.

  • Are completely comfortable using a computer - uploading, downloading, saving and viewing files. You should have a solid understanding (or regular access to someone who does), of the ins- and-outs of your either Mac or PC (Windows) operating system.
  • Are completely comfortable navigating and using a web browser, including browsing/finding information and form submissions. At a Graduate level, in-depth topical searching is essential. Having a Sherlock Holmes-type interest is useful online.
  • Are completely comfortable updating a computer with recent plug-ins (small applications that help you read or view certain files).
  • Are completely comfortable changing some of the browser preferences, such as turning pop-up blockers on/off, clearing browser cache, changing tabs.
  • Are completely comfortable viewing and participating in online group discussions (asynchronous conferences or forums) and real-time chats (e.g. MSN messenger). Almost all of OISE’s courses are based on an online collaborative discourse model. Topics are discussed in depth with peers and facilitators.
  • Are completely comfortable using a word processing program (e.g. Word, WordPerfect). This is essential!


Other Considerations

  • It is beneficial to have some experience with any other application such as Power Point that enhances communicating information online. Basic computer drawing skills (circles, squares, flow charts) are always beneficial to help communicate ideas visually.
  • Know-how on various educational technologies used in schools may also be an asset in some courses.
  • If you unsure what other applications may be necessary for your course, contact your instructor or the program liaison. For example, some disciplines may require familiarity with Excel or SPSS.
  • Are comfortable listening to music and viewing videos online.
  • Are comfortable and interested in learning and experimenting with the use of media and other emerging online technologies, which may include Blogs or Wikis.
  • Are curious about technology and are not frustrated at the slightest minor technological glitch. Although the Institute offers a Client Care Portal to aid with small computer issues, having a good understanding of one’s own computer system and some trouble-shooting experience is an asset, which alleviates frustration and facilities quicker solutions to a problem.

Time Allocation Recommendations

  • You should enjoy a flexible, somewhat self-paced learning style that will afford working alone and in groups. Online courses do require attendance and participation – each instructor outlines their own set of course requirements.
  1. Generally there is far more flexibility taking online courses because no exact meeting time and date is set out for the class. This means, you are able to attend to your work and home needs and participate at the time of day that suites you.
  2. We recommend small amounts of time on a very regular basis (usually daily) over and above any course work and reading.
  3. Because of the asynchronous nature of online learning, you are able to review and think through any response you make to your class. You are never put on the the spot.
  4. Make no mistake, online courses do not take less time than their face-to-face counterparts and the quality of engagement based on the course requirements are always monitored.
  5. Online courses at OISE do offer a collaborative and supportive peer-shared environment where many friendships and contacts are made. Many students new to online learning are surprised how well they get to know their peers and the contacts they make all over the world. Online learning is about community
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