Technical Preparation

Nothing is more frustrating than encountering technical problems while you are trying to complete your studies. Inevitably, these problems will crop up at the worst time - such as during an exam or when you are up against a tight deadline. As you begin your academic journey, you need to make sure your computer equipment is up to the task. This page is a guide to assist you in determining your computer's readiness.

All UWF students are expected to have an active ArgoNet e-mail account, regular access to e-mail (2-3 times a week), and basic skills in the use of a word processor. Many courses make additional demands on technology skills, including the ability to use web conferencing for Elluminate sessions, access to D2L, the ability to use course functions in D2L (such as uploading material to an assignment drop box), and the use of specialized software required for tasks such as statistical analysis, creation of power point presentations, or creation and manipulation of digital images.

The academic course search pages on the UWF web site include icons for each course that allow students to view the course syllabus, determine whether the course is an eLearning course or a distance learning course (and whether the instructor will be present in the location for that section), determine the extent of computer use expected in the course, and identify other technology needs associated with the course (special software available only in a lab, Elluminate, need to purchase a clicker, use of proctored exams, and other specialized software or technology needs).

Internet connectivity

We have designed our online courses so that students can fully access the course materials with a 56K dial-up Internet connection. At the same time, our courses include interactive materials to improve student learning and retention. For this reason we strongly recommend that students use a broadband (DSL or cable) Internet connection. With high speed Internet access you will have more time to devote to your studies and spend less time waiting for a file to open or download.

Please note that some of our more technical courses REQUIRE broadband access. Please contact your faculty advisor if you have any questions regarding Internet access requirements.

Your Hardware

The University of West Florida publishes recommended minimum standards for both PC and MAC desktop and laptop systems. If you don't know your system information, you can click on this link to run a system checker application that will give your computer's specifications. This application does not record or transmit any data, it is only designed for your information.

If you are planning on purchasing a new computer, here is some general advice:

  1. Purchase a computer system with a good warranty program from a company with a reputation for quality customer service.
  2. In general, almost any new computer that can run Windows XP will be more than sufficient for today's college student.
  3. The decision to purchase a laptop versus a desktop is a personal one based on how the particular student works. Generally, a laptop comparable to a desktop is more expensive. This expense should be weighed against the convenience of portability. If you are in the military and may deploy, then a laptop is recommended.
  4. We recommend that you:
    1. Purchase more memory than recommended. Memory affects the speed of a computer more than any other part or component.
    2. Most new systems now come with an LCD monitor. They take up significantly less space than a CRT "TV-style" monitor and they are also much easier on your eyes, as they do not continuously flicker as do CRT monitors.

Be sure to inquire about student and/or military discounts. Most vendors will provide a discount with proper identification, such as your NAUTILUS card or military ID.

Dell and Gateway offer UWF students, faculty and staff special discounts on new computer purchases. To learn more, visit the Buy A Computer web page.

Your Software

In addition to minimum hardware requirements, the University maintains minimum software requirements that cover general academic needs. Below is a list of software and browser plug-ins that you must have on your computer:

  1. Web browser (Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher, Netscape 6.0 or higher, Opera 7.0 or higher, Firefox, or Safari) AOL users will need to open a separate, stand-alone web browser to use the eLearning system.
  2. Word processing program (Word or Word Perfect, however, most UWF faculty use Word).
  3. Presentation software (some courses require that students make a PowerPoint presentation)
  4. Virus protection software (free download of McAfee is available to our students, search Software in MyUWF)
  5. Media player (we recommend Windows Media Player for PCs or QuickTime for MACs)

Below is a list of commonly used software that we highly recommend for our online courses:

  1. Web browser (Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher, Netscape 6.0 or higher, Opera 7.0 or higher, Firefox, or Safari)
  2. Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access). UWF is standardized on the Microsoft Office and these are the programs that the faculty will most likely be using and requiring from their students.
  3. Adobe Acrobat Reader
  4. PowerPoint Viewer (if you don't have PowerPoint)
  5. Windows Media Player and/or
  6. QuickTime
  7. Adobe Flash Player 

Additionally, your instructor may require that you install other unique software or plug-ins like the Respondus lock-down web browser for taking quizzes in eLearning.

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