Minimum Technical Skill Requirements for Online Learners

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One of my tasks as an instructional designer on my college campus is to provide learning guidelines and protocols for distance education. One way to prepare students for online learning is to provide a list of minimum technical skills required and make recommendations on where they can seek help if they do not possess such skills. Below is what I prepared for our students. I’d love your feedback on it.


The following is a list of basic technical skills you should have to engage productively in an online course:
● use the learning management system (e.g., Schoology) tools to post discussions and upload assignments;
● use different browsers, clear browsing history, cache, and cookies, and refresh the screen;
● use email with attachments;
● create and submit electronic files in word processing program formats and save files to PDFs;
● copy and paste text;
● download and install software (e.g., media applications);
● download a media file for viewing or listening;
● use spreadsheet programs (e.g., Excel, Google Sheets, etc.);
● use presentation and simple graphics programs;
● use collaborative tools like Google Docs and shared folders on Google Drive; and
● use search engines to access digital books and articles from library databases.

Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

Teacherrogers Products
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  • Hi Sandra,
    Great list. I wanted to ask what kind of software students may have to download and install – it says media applications, but I was wondering if you could be more specific? I’m wondering if the computer they’re using has to meet minimum specifications in that case?
    Also, re word processing programs, is there ever an issue with students being able to access the corrections made to their submissions? Specifically, I’m always worried if everyone was able to look at the changes I suggested using track changes, even though I’ve included a tutorial on how to do that (I guess I’m worried some students may not have explored that area of the course and may not have seen there’s a tutorial).


    • Hi Vedrana, Thanks for your response! As for media applications, this could mean different things to different instructors’ requirements, so I kept it generic. For example, if they require students to use the Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor for test integrity, students must know how to download and install the software (and update it periodically). Other media apps could be for online student-response systems used in the class for web-enhancement in lieu of hand-held devices such as iClickers.

      As for student’s seeing their tracked-changes, if you provide a video tutorial, that will greatly help them learn how to use this. MS Office will keep the tracked-changes within the document and should be viewable once downloaded, as not all learning management systems will display this. You might consider requiring students to address your editorial feedback as a follow-up assignment as part of the evaluation of their learning. Alternatively, Google Docs is getting better all the time with edits, comments, and footnotes. Plus, it will let you know the timeframe of the student’s interaction (viewing and edit history). I hope this is helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

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