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).
Our online courses are designed to 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 contact your faculty advisor if you have any questions regarding Internet access requirements.
The University of West Florida publishes recommendations for student use of technology. If you don't know your system information, you can 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:
- Purchase a computer system with a good warranty program from a company with a reputation for quality customer service. Include accidental damage coverage for screens on mobile devices.
- In general, almost any new computer that can run Windows 7 or Mac OS X will be more than sufficient for today's college student.
- The decision to purchase a tablet/laptop versus a desktop is a personal one based on how the particular student works.
- We recommend that you:
- Purchase more memory than recommended. Memory affects the speed of a computer more than any other part or component.
- Purchase a device/system whose configuration includes a webcam (whether built in or an add-on). Coursework may involve some type of tele-conferencing or online test proctoring which requires the use of a webcam.
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, Apple, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft are some of the companies which offer UWF students, faculty and staff special discounts on new computer purchases. To learn more, visit the Buy A Computer web page.
In addition to 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:
- Word processing program (i.e. Microsoft Word, or Google Docs; most UWF faculty use MS Word)
- Presentation software (i.e. Microsoft PowerPoint or Prezi)
- Web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Apple Safari)
- Web browser plugins for video (Adobe Flash Player or Microsoft Silverlight)
- Virus and malware protection software
- Media player (i.e. Windows Media Player or Apple’s QuickTime)
For more information on available software, check out the UWF Student Technology Guide.