Do you have access to
an Internet-connected computer?
|A good setup for an
online student is a computer of his/her own
with a reliable Internet connection, set up
in a quiet location where study and testing
can be done without interruptions.
is possible to take an online course by using publicly
available computers, such as
those in the Library
on the San Marcos campus, but it is very difficult
to access them whenever you need, and is not
To succeed in an online
class it is far better if you have access to a computer
where you can do your class work. This will involve
reading or printing materials, and may well involve
uploading completed assignments or even downloading and
installing browser helper programs if your computer is
not adequately configured.
The location of this
computer is also important. It needs to be located in a
relatively quiet place, free of constant distractions,
so that you can concentrate on your work.
The following tables
summarize the basic and most desirable computer
configurations for taking an online course, followed by
some specifics about computer use at Palomar college. If
you feel you don’t need to examine the details below,
just be aware that you need three basic things:
to a relatively new computer.|
Internet connection that is reasonably fast.|
|An email account.|
If you have these, you
have the equipment needed to take an online class. Read
on to find out the technical details.
Computing specifications for taking
hardware requirements for taking an online class are
fairly minimal. Certainly any computer bought retail
within the last four years should be sufficient, given
that it meets some basic requirements. Your computer
should have a sound card and be running a current
operating system such as Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X,
with the current operating system updates. For example,
a Windows 7 computer should be updated to the latest
Microsoft Service Pack; an Apple computer should be
updated as far as possible (at time of writing this is
OS X 10.7).
greater importance is the web browser software used to
access the online course. Palomar College uses the
Blackboard Learning System to offer most online
classes. There is
a table showing which browsers on which operating
systems are supported by the Blackboard system. It is highly recommended that students use an
OS/browser combination which is certified to work with
Hint: To find out what version of the
Browser software you are using, start the browser, click
the Help menu, then click "About..." A box will pop up
telling you the version number.
Where do I obtain the latest free version
of Google Chrome?
Where do I obtain the latest free version
of Internet Explorer?
Where do I obtain the latest free version of Firefox?
Where do I obtain the latest free version of Safari?
You must have a
reliable email account to take an online class.
Palomar College provides all students
with email accounts.
for details. However, you do not
have to use the email from Palomar College if you would
rather use some other account. You can use any email
address you wish while taking your online class. Feel
free to use an email account from
are free and generally work well. If you do use a
non-Palomar email account for Blackboard, it must be the
email address marked as your "preferred" email in your
Palomar eServices account.
Free browser plug-ins:
Many online classes
will use browser helper programs, or "plug-ins" to
access certain class materials. We recommend installing
the following free plug-ins:
Many courses require word processing, so
we generally recommend that you use Microsoft Word and
save your document as a Word "doc" file. If you do not
have Word, you must use another word processing program
such as WordPerfect or Works, and save your documents in
“Rich Text Format,” commonly known as "RTF" format.
There may be some additional software required,
depending on the exact class you are taking. You should
contact your instructor to learn about any other
About the Blackboard System
Blackboard requires a browser that is
that cookies are enabled. These settings are on by
default in all the Blackboard Certified browsers. Any
pop-up blocker software should be disabled for the
How do I turn off my pop-up
This would depend on exactly
which pop-up blocker you have; some browsers have
built-in blockers, most add-on toolbars (Yahoo! and
Google toolbars, for example) also have blockers, and
some Internet security software (McAfee Personal
Firewall, for example) may also block pop-ups. In any
event, there should be an option to allow pop-ups based
on the site they are from; Allow pop-ups from "learn.palomar.edu." For specifics on how to configure these pop-up blockers
you may have to consult the product documentation.
What kind of computer resources does
Palomar make available to online students?
There are public access computer labs on
the San Marcos and Escondido campuses. In San Marcos,
the ground floor of
the library has student access computers. There
are also computers located on the second floor of the
library that have browser capabilities. Additionally,
there are 35 public access computers on the second floor
of the student union building (use requires student
activities sticker). In Escondido, room 501 is an
academic skills lab that offers some public access time,
and the library at the Escondido center also has
computers for public use.