Hate Computers? You Will Love Online Courses Anyway
I met a retired man recently who said to me, “online courses aren’t for me! I can’t even log onto Wi-Fi in hotel rooms or check my email most of the time. My grandson comes over to clean out my email once a month. How am I supposed to use all kinds of complicated new computer software?”
Let’s face it. We all have a little fear of new technology. But when you come down to it, recent advances in computers systems have been all about making it easier to use computers, not harder. If you sign up for any courses at StraighterLine, for example, you are going to find it easy and transparent to handle the technical side of your learning experience.
But if those reassurances don’t convince you that you are ready to take college courses online, here are some tips for making your online learning experience easy and seamless . . .
- You are going to need a modern computer. If you’re still pushing an old desktop dinosaur with a crackling CPU monitor and an out-of-date operating system, it’s time to trade it for something new – either a modern desktop or preferably, a new laptop. The good news is, you can get a powerful new machine – one that will leave your old wheezer in the dust – for much less than $1,000 these days. And the new one will be pretty much plug-and-play, meaning that it will be ready to serve as a virtual classroom, right out of the box.
- You will also need robust internet access. Setting up wireless access is easier today than it was even a year ago. If you’re already signed up with an internet service provider (ISP), you can easily set up a wireless router that will let you get online from anywhere in your residence. (No need any longer to be stringing Ethernet cables all over your house.) Another economical option is to start out using free Wi-Fi that’s available at your public library.
- You’re going to need an up-to-date suite of office software. Unless you’re using something modern, you are going to have a difficult time preparing and submitting your course assignments. Microsoft Office, available for both Apples and Windows-based computers, is the most widely used office suite today. (Unfortunately, you’ll need to buy it.) However, other options are available too, like Open Office, a full-featured suite of office programs that you can download for free. Google Docs offers another free online option that more people are using today, though copying documents and uploading them to your course dashboards requires a few extra steps.
Can you use a tablet computer?
Perhaps you’re thinking that if you’re going to buy a new computer anyway, who not go all the way and get yourself a spiffy new iPad or other tablet to serve as your online-learning workhorse.
At present, that’s probably not the best idea. Most online courses were created to work best on laptops and desktops, not on tablets. But the time will soon be here when a cool new tablet can serve as your virtual classroom. But not yet . . . stay tuned!