Before you start your SKE course:

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1 Before you start your SKE course: We are looking forward to supporting you in your studies with us. As you know the course is entirely delivered online. In preparation, we just need to check with you about some basic equipment that will be required. The following are needed for the course: (see following pages for more details about hardware and software) A desktop or laptop personal computer (PC or Mac) A reliable Broadband internet connection A headset with a USB connection that incorporates a microphone * A webcam desirable (especially for languages), but not *We specify a headset with a USB connection and integral microphone for our live tutorials because this type of headset automatically switches off the internal speaker and microphone on your laptop or computer during tutorials otherwise the quality of online tutorials will be adversely affected for all participants. [NB: whilst some features of the courses may be accessible via tablets or smartphones, many are not and we do not support these devices for the course. In addition, Chromebooks and Chrome OS are NOT supported.] Guidance on home computer specification for SKE Participants As a minimum, to study on the SKE course, you have to be able to: 1. Use your University 2. Access key University websites (including the CLIC Student Portal) 3. Use the University s Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment 4. Take part in remote tutorials (using Blackboard Collaborate online videoconferencing) 5. Access the online Pebblepad software for the e-portfolio (for STEM courses) or online Rosetta Stone Advantage software (for Language courses) 6. Access subscribed e-books and journals provided by CCCU Library Services Computers with the specification shown on the following pages will allow you to carry out all of the activities listed above, plus other possible learning-related activities on your course. This specification is primarily for Microsoft Windows PCs, the system used and supported by the University. [However, if you would like to use a Mac, we have supplied information for this as well.] 1

2 Internet Connection You will need a reliable Broadband internet connection to access the Blackboard VLE, other software and your University from home. You need to make sure your PC is capable of connecting to the Internet this usually means it must have either a built-in modem or a connection for an external modem (such as a Broadband modem or router) and/or a wireless / WiFi connection. Do check, but you should find that almost all new PCs will have this. You will also need to subscribe to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to get access to the Internet. You do not necessarily have to do this when buying your PC some new PCs may come with a getting onto the net pack, but this will be optional. You can choose your own ISP at any time. Some common ISPs are listed on this web page: AOL Users: You may have problems with Blackboard using AOL s own web browser. Please use AOL simply to connect to the Internet but separately open one of the recommended web browsers below to use Blackboard. Retailers, Brands & Prices The University cannot recommend where you buy your PC from, or what makes to consider, except to suggest that: you buy from a well-known PC retailer you can trust so that, if something goes wrong, you easily have somewhere to go and get help. you buy a well-known make as you generally get what you pay for cheaper, less wellknown brands generally are less reliable. Prices vary, but note from the specification below that you do not need to buy a very expensive, 'high spec' PC. A low to middle-of-the-range PC will be fine. Look out for offers of whole packages (including monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, software etc.) from known manufacturers. At the time of writing these guidelines, many popular high street and online retailers offer complete packages for under 400 which will be easily up to the job! Note for Mac Users: If you use a Mac, ensure it has: an internet connection and the Chrome web browser note the built-in Safari browser does not always work perfectly with Blackboard for all versions of Mac OS X. [Later versions of OS-X for Mac seem to have addressed this.] We strongly recommend downloading Chrome which is free. QuickTime to play.wmv files Office software: see note about Office 365 under Software Specification below. 2

3 Hardware Specification Hardware Minimum Recommended Processor Desktop or laptop computer with a 1.5Ghz processor 2.0 Ghz+ multi-core processor Memory (RAM) at least 1 GB (Gigabyte) of memory, more for newer operating systems like Windows 8 or GB (Gigabytes) hard disk space. 4 GB+ will be more than enough. Hard Disk Space Sound Card Graphics Card Internet connection USB Ports Headset Webcam Scanner or digital camera This figure determines the space available to store programmes and data on your PC. NB: You will need to keep a minimum 20 MB (Megabytes) disk space free to run the live videoconferencing software. In addition, if you are studying a language, you will need 50 MB free for the Rosetta Stone Advantage software. You will need a sound card suitable for playing audio and video clips Almost all new PCs come with one. You won t need a special graphics card any PC in this specification will have a graphics card built in that will be sufficient. NB: a minimum screen resolution of 1024x768 is recommended. Your PC must be capable of connecting and sustaining a reliable internet connection. Speed: STEM (Maths, Chemistry, Computing, Physics): at least 28.8 kbps (kilobits per second) or above Languages: at least 192 kbps for French, German or Spanish. You will need at least enough USB ports to connect any devices such as a USB keyboard, mouse, printer/scanner etc. A comfortable headset with speakers and integrated, noise-cancelling microphone with wired USB connection. [NB: A headset will be provided for language students.] Notes: Must have stereo sound (NOT 7.1 surround sound). Bluetooth connections will not work. For STEM courses only: If you have hand-written evidence, you will need a scanner or digital camera to capture any hand-written work for the e-portfolio. 120 GB+ 128 MB Graphics Card such as an Nvidia / Ati chipset Broadband with a speed of 1mbps (megabits per second) or above 4 or more USB ports will be useful. [Other devices that need a USB connection include digital cameras, flash drives/memory sticks and portable external hard drives.] Examples include Logitech PC Headset 960 USB and Microsoft Lifechat LX-3000 USB headset. Especially for language courses: External or internal webcam For STEM courses (for e-portfolio): Scanner with ability to create multiple page pdf files. 3

4 Software Specification Software Minimum Recommended Operating System Windows Vista Mac OS 10.7 Windows 7, 8, or 10 Mac OS 10.8, 10.9, Supported Browsers When accessing Blackboard, all users are recommended to use Google Chrome. To download the latest version of Google Chrome: https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/br owser Google Chrome is the recommended browser; however, some other browsers may work for at least some of the software we use and it is a good idea to have more than one browser available for use. For full browser list, see below. Microsoft Windows Vista Chrome (Stable Channel) Internet Explorer 8 or 9 Firefox (latest stable release) Windows 7 Chrome (Stable Channel) Internet Explorer 8, 9 10, 11 Firefox (latest stable release) Windows 8 Chrome (Stable Channel) Internet Explorer 10 or 11 Firefox (latest stable release) Windows 10 Chrome (Stable Channel) Microsoft Edge Firefox (latest stable release) Mac OS 10.7 Chrome (Stable Channel) Safari 6 or 7 Firefox (latest stable release) Mac OS 10.8 Chrome (Stable Channel) Safari 6 Firefox (latest stable release) Mac OS 10.9 Chrome (Stable Channel) Safari 7 or 8 Firefox (latest stable release) Mac OS Chrome (Stable Channel) Safari 8 Firefox (latest stable release) To download and install the latest version of Firefox, visit 4

5 Software Minimum Recommended Office Software As part of the course, from time to time you will need to access Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. Students can now download Office 365 ProPlus free of charge, to use while they are studying at the University. Instructions can be found here: Although not needed for the course, you can find a wide range of software which can also be purchased at discounted process through Student Software Suppliers: Software4 students Minitab can be purchased at a reduced price from OntheHub Other Software Anti-virus/ Internet Security You will need to read PDF files. A free Adobe Acrobat PDF reader can be downloaded from You will need to have the latest Flash Player plug-in installed on your computer for the browser/s you are using (NB: With Chrome, you get Adobe Flash player automatically, and it updates when Chrome does. Flash Player is also integrated with Microsoft Edge in Windows 10.) In your browser, you will need to have Flash and JavaScript enabled, and allow pop-ups. All professionals strongly recommend antivirus and internet security firewall software. Ensure that you keep current the anti-virus installation feature to enable the software to update itself very regularly. Note: Certain settings on some security software may affect the running of the video conferencing software. If this happens, you will be directed during the course to information on how to adjust your settings to enable this to work. Save to PDF: For STEM courses (Maths, Physics, Computing, Chemistry), we prefer that you save or print your e-portfolio evidence files to PDF format. PC: PDF facility built into Windows 10. If you don t have a save or to pdf facility with your operating system, you can use a free PDF converter software such as CutePDF Writer: Mac: PDF facility built into the operating system. Sophos Anti-Virus for home use: The CCCU licence provides Sophos Antivirus free for CCCU students on both Windows and Mac systems. 5

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