Computer Readiness

Assuring that your computer will work with Blackboard

Step 1 - Own a Personal Computer

While it is possible to take an online course without your own computer, the convenience that an online class may give to you will be lost. Having your own computer gives you more control over your time on task, and you also have more control over the reliability of your computer.


When selecting a computer, select based on your own needs and preferences. Do research! We all have our own needs and personalities. Your computer selection should meet those needs.

Step 2 – Updated Operating System

An updated machine is the key to security, stability, and reliability.

It is especially important to keep the software that runs the computer (operating system), software that protects your computer (antivirus, antispyware and the firewall) and software you use to access the web (web browsers and email clients) up to date.


After the original release of software, enhancements to the original program or operating system can be developed which deal with situations not in existence when the software was first marketed. Flaws or unanticipated vulnerabilities can be found after release. In such circumstances, the software company releases an update or ‘patch’ that fixes a particular weakness.


Keep your computer updated by performing operating system updates.


Windows

Your computer is up to date when you've installed the latest updates for Windows and your programs. To check for Windows updates, follow these steps:


  1. Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button . In the search box, type Update, and then, in the list of results, click Windows Update.

  2. In the left pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows looks for the latest updates for your computer.

  3. If any updates are found, click Install updates.


You might see both important and optional updates. If you don't see the Install updates button when there are only optional updates, click Optional updates available, choose the ones you want, and then click OK.


Mac

Automatic Updates

Your Mac notifies you when updates are available for OS X or software you've purchased from the Mac App Store.

Always update!

Step 3 – Multiple Internet Browsers

The main reason why it is a good idea to have more than one web browser installed on a computer is that it provides a back-up or alternate way to connect to the Internet when a favorite web browser suddenly stops working or denies access to a particular website. Technology is not perfect, as much as we expect it to be. Programs, software, and websites change, get updated and, sometimes, break for unknown reasons. To save time online use multiple web browsers for different purposes. It allows you to combine speed and reliability while also having quick access to additional tools.

If you’re convinced your browser might be displaying webpages differently or not as effectively than another browser, then consider these situations:


  • Versatility – Having multiple web browsers installed on your computer provides you with different interfaces to connect to the Internet. The page loading speed of Google Chrome might be more attractive than using a web browser such as Mozilla Firefox that provides the user with a wide variety of tools and gadgets, or vice-versa. Try out a variety of web browsers to see what they do and how they display the Internet content on your computer. You may discover that you like one of the newer ones more than your current browser. A list of popular and acceptable web browsers for the Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems is provided at the end of this article.
  • Compatibility and Security - Some websites might not open properly after awhile with the default web browser. Try another web browser to access the website.
  • Reparability/Reliability – Web browsers wear out, become corrupt, out dated and break, just like other computer programs. Upgrading the web browser version or completely re-installing the browser program usually corrects the glitch. But, this isn't effective when time is not on your side. Using a backup web browser to access information on the Internet will save time and headaches until the problem can be fixed.


Browsers that work with Blackboard

Windows computers:

Internet Explorer (Windows’ operating system default): http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/worldwide-sites.aspx

Mozilla Firefox: http://getfirefox.com

Google Chrome: http://www.google.com/chrome

Opera: http://www.opera.com/download/


Mac and Linux computers:

Safari (MAC operating system’s default): http://www.apple.com/safari/download/

Mozilla Firefox (Linux’s default web browser): http://getfirefox.com

Google Chrome: http://www.google.com/chrome

Opera: http://www.opera.com/download/

Step 4 – Internet Browser Cookies

Blackboard requires use of session cookies.

To Enable Browser Cookies:

Internet Explorer

Firefox

Chrome

Safari
Opera


The main purpose of a cookie is to identify users and possibly prepare customized Web pages or to save site login information for you. Cookies keep track of your preferences when you are logged into Blackboard.

Step 5 – Disable Pop-Up Blockers

Disable pop-up blockers, or add Edgewood College's Blackboard URL (https://blackboard.edgewood.edu/) as an exception in your browser's pop-up blocker settings.

Other application URL's used by you or your Professor may need to be added as exception in your pop-up blocker settings so that pop-ups will display.


Disabling pop-up blockers - http://www.geeksquad.com/do-it-yourself/tech-tips/disable-pop-up-blocker.aspx

Step 6 – Trusted Sites

Add Edgewood Collge's Blackboard and other Edgewood College sites to your primary browser(s) trusted sites zone.


Trusted sites prevent security measures on a website or your computer from blocking actions from sites you trust.

Step 7 – Internet Connection

Have a reliable internet connection. A wired connection is preferable, if possible.

Don't trust the relaibility of 'cafe' connections when you have deadlines such as a test, paper submission, or discussion assignments you are trying to submit at the 'last minute'

Step 8 – Software

Microsoft Office -

This is the standard software that many Edgewood College Professors use. There are Mac and PC versions. Each has its own features. If you have ( and use) other software for word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, etc., make sure you save it so that someone using Microsoft Office can open your document.


Presentation Software -

You may be asked to prepare a presentation (or more) for your class(es). Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote are most common. There are also free presentation softwares you can download. There are also online software presentation tools you may be asked to use by your Professor such as YouTube, Prezi, Movenote, Google Slides, etc.


Anti-virus

The idea that antivirus software is only necessary for irresponsible Windows users is a myth. Even the most responsible users can get a virus. Make sure you keep your computer 'healthy' by having a relaiable antivirus program installed.

Step 9 – Java, Javascript, & Plug-ins

Install latest version of Java

Java is a programming language that lots of applications and websites use and will not work unless you have Java installed. Make sure you keep Java up-to-date.


Ensure Javascript is enabled

Almost all web pages contain JavaScript, a scripting programming language that runs on a visitor's web browser. It makes web pages functional for specific purposes and if disabled for some reason, the content or the functionality of the web page can be limited or unavailable.


Plug-ins

Plug-ins are pieces of software that acts as add-ons to web browsers and give added functionality, such as watching flash videos on YouTube.

Install plug-ins such as:

Step 10 – Backup

Backup your valuable files, e-mails, photos, videos, and class work in case hard drive failures or other unforeseen issues.


Use simple devices such as USB flash drives, external hard drives, discs, or cloud solutions such as OneDrive, iCloud, or Google Drive.


TIP – Create assignments in a word document, save to computer, and then copy and paste or attach in Blackboard

Additional Tips

Make Blackboard your homepage, add to favorites or create shortcut on desktop.


Subscribe to Discussion Board to get e-mail alerts when classmates or instructors post.


Clear your Internet Cache. Your Internet browser stores information when you visit a website, so it will load quickly the next time you visit it. Your cache can prevent from seeing updated content , so clearing your internet cache may resolve many issues of not seeing certain content or change in content.


Accessories – Webcams, headsets, or microphones may be helpful when creating presentations or introduction presentations..