Tech Stuff

Browsers

If you use Internet Explorer, you should be using version 7 or 8. You may also consider using a browser other than Internet Explorer. Some programs just work better using other browsers. Consider:

Browser Plug-ins

The web-based applications used in this course require the latest browsers and plug-ins. Be sure to have them on your computer. These plug-ins include:

Headsets

For recording your voice and listening to audio, a headset is recommended. A headset is similar to headphones but includes a built-in microphone. Below are some recommendations:

Internet Connection

Be sure you connect using a broadband connection (DSL/cable modem) or over a school's network. If you want to have the fastest, most dependable connection, connect directly rather than with wireless. If you want to be able to access a site at school, test it before you need to use it to be sure that the school's filter does not block the site. For some sites, there is an educational alternative. Talk with your tech director well before you need to use a site. If a site cannot be unblocked, you may need to work from a location where the site is not blocked by a filter.

Computer

If you are using a computer three - four years old, it may not have the processing power and internal memory (RAM) to operate all of the online applications without problems. While computer components and software can be updated, it often make more sense to simply purchase a new computer with all new parts and software (covered by a warranty.)

The price of new computers continues to decrease while speed and features increase. You may be able to keep your existing monitor and just replace an aging computer (CPU) for as little as $400. The relatively inexpensive computer your purchase today has the same speed and features an expensive computer you could have purchased just a few years ago. If your budget allows, consider replacing your computer every three years. Andy likes to say, "buy cheap and buy often".

User Names

Be sure to write down your username and password as you create online accounts. A save password spreadsheet has been provided to make it easier.  You may think you'll remember, but writing them all in one place will save you a lot of frustration later.

How do you find a user name which hasn't been taken by others? One way is to standardize on a less common user name, such as your first and last name together, or add a number behind your user name or include a middle initial. There are websites for just about everything and there are sites for this too. One of these can simultaneously check multiple sites to see if your user name have been taken yet. Most of these tools are more focused on social networking sites and do not check the education oriented sites we are using, however, you may find it helpful as you try to standardize on a single user login name.