Online Learning

Equipment You Should Have to Learn Online

At first glance, the equipment one should have on hand in order to learn online seems painfully obvious: a computer, right?

Well, yes. But there are lots of other factors that need to be taken in to account as well as just the obvious. To say ‘a computer’ is like saying that to drive a car, you need wheels. Merely having the computer isn’t enough—there are plenty of other bits and pieces to go with it!

A webcam, for example, will be vital for any kind of teleconferencing, as will a microphone. Most modern laptops feature both of these built in as standard, but for a desktop PC you’ll probably need to invest in both.

For webcams anything with a screen resolution up to 640x480 and with a screen rate above 25 frames per second should be more than sufficient, and can often be picked up for around $30 from most major electronics retailers. For a microphone, look for a built-in headset rather than a free-standing one. Headsets tend to be far clearer and much less prone to static.

You’ll also need a good printer, for those vital forum threads and important notes. Go with a recognized brand—Canon, Dell, Lexmark or HP, and ask advice from your local retailer as to ink prices, print quality and anything else you deem necessary. Printers can be picked up dirt cheap these days, but be warned – you generally get what you pay for.

There are a few other pieces of equipment you may want to pick up to improve your online learning experience. An orthopedic mouse and keyboard can reduce wrist strain, the risk of repetitive strain injury, and general discomfort, while a decent office chair makes the whole experience a hundred times more comfortable.

Moving away from the technical side of things, other pieces of equipment to ensure you have to hand include a pen, a notebook, and any books you feel you may need. Most courses will give you a list of books for required reading, and while textbooks are expensive, many websites (including Amazon) sell them second-hand for reasonable prices. Most schools will also be able to direct you to a cheap copy.

Preparing for classes online is simply a matter of common sense, in many ways. Remember what you used to take to school with you, and make sure you have that close to hand. If your computer is anywhere close to modern spec (as in, newer than 2005, and loaded with Windows XP or above) and has a webcam and camera, then you’re laughing.

One last thing you will need to at least consider: The faster your Internet connection, the better your chats and teleconferences will be. It may be worth upping your speed, particularly if you have a slow connection or dial-up.

Related Information

5 Tips on Studying for E-learning Classes

How to Choose an Online Course

Online Learning