Technology Requirements for Online Classes


Basic Technology Requirements

If you are taking online, virtual, or hybrid courses at SUSCC, you MUST have access to appropriate technology to access course materials.  It is strongly recommended that you have access to a personal computer when you register for a distance education course. Students may use computers in the open computer labs in each campus Learning Resource Center (LRC) or library but that access will be limited since computer availability is on a first-come basis during normal library operating hours.  Therefore, it is not recommended that you rely solely on access through the LRC. Additionally, some students plan to use computers at their worksite but you should be aware that some classes may require the download of additional software that may not be allowed by your employer.

You will need to have access to the following software/hardware:

  • Computer (Mobile devices are not recommended. Mobile applications are available for Canvas but many features are not available with a mobile device.)
  • Working microphone and webcam (can be combined or included with computer hardware such as in a laptop)
  • Speakers or headphones
  • High-Speed Internet Connection

Technology requirements for individual courses may vary and your course may require more hardware or software.  See the course syllabus or contact the instructor for additional technology requirements.

Computer Hardware and Software Requirements 

Since Southern Union uses a Learning Management System (LMS) called Canvas to deliver online courses, it is important that your computer meet the basic specifications needed to access Canvas.  There may be requirements in some courses that may require additional technologies. 

Computer Specifications

For best performance, you should access Canvas with a computer that supports the most recent browser versions. It is recommended to use a computer five years old or newer with at least 1GB of RAM.

Operating System

Canvas only requires an operating system that can run the latest compatible web browsers. Your computer operating system should be kept up to date with the latest recommended security updates and upgrades.

*Chromebooks and computers running in Windows S mode are not compatible with the testing software using in most online classes.

Mobile Devices

The Canvas interface was optimized for desktop displays, so using small form factors such as phones or tablets may not be a pleasant experience in using Canvas. For the best user experience on a mobile device, please download the Canvas mobile application. The Canvas mobile applications require Android 6.0 or later and iOS 13.0 or later.

Canvas offers limited support for native mobile browsers on tablet devices. For additional details, please reference the limited-support mobile browser guidelines.

Other technology required in your course may not work at all on a mobile device (phone or tablet).  

Emergency Laptop Loan Program

In the event of an emergency, Southern Union has a limited number of laptops for loan.  To borrow a laptop for the current semester, you must be a registered student. Complete the Technology Request Form and your request will be considered on an individual basis.

Internet Connection Speed

A high speed internet connection with speeds of 1.5 mbps or higher is recommended for online courses to ensure that you can access all of the course materials and resources, particularly large file sizes as with streaming video. However, technologies used in individual courses vary.  See the course syllabus or contact your instructor for additional technology requirements.

  • Why does Internet speed matter?
    • Many online courses use videos. Viewing is only possible if a certain amount of data is transferred to your computer in a timely manner. The speed that the data can be sent to you is called your "Internet speed".  **
  • Approximate speeds of the common types of Internet Service Providers:
    • Dial-up internet* - 56 bps (from phone company)
    • DSL internet - 768 kbps+ (from phone company)
    • Cable internet - 1,000-10,000+ kbps (from cable company)

*Dial-up connections cannot load the data fast enough which causes video to pause to let more data arrive. DSL and Cable connections are more than adequate to watch most online videos.

**Note: Wifi connections are available in most areas on campus.  You should be aware that during testing, you will be required to be located in a private area so make arrangements before your test.  

Web Browser Requirements for Canvas                                                                 

For best performance, Canvas should be used on the current or first previous major release of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari. Because it's built using web standards, Canvas runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, or any other device with a modern web browser.  You should always use the most current version of your preferred browser. Your browser will notify you if there is a new version available.  If you experience problems with a particular browser or Canvas behaves in an unusual way, try a different browser.  Find out more details and try the browser checker tool found on the guide: What are the Browser and Computer Requirements for Canvas? 

Remember that all technology is different.  If you find that another tool or website you are trying to access for your class is not working, try a different browser before contacting support.

Other Required Components

  • Adobe Reader: Adobe Reader software is the free global standard for viewing and printing PDF documents. It's the only PDF file viewer that can open and interact with all types of PDF content. Get the Free Reader Download.

  • Zoom. Many virtual classes (online classes with scheduled meetings) require the use of Zoom.  In  most cases, you will access your Zoom meeting through a link provided by your instructor or the instructor may instruct you to use the Zoom link in your Canvas course.  The student may be required to enable or install a browser extension before accessing Zoom on the computer for the first time.

  • Respondus LockDown Browser™ is a secured browser used solely for taking online exams and quizzes for courses at Southern Union. If your instructor has chosen to require the Lockdown browser for their quiz or exam, you will need to install it one time for free on the computer you will use.  Some instructors may also require the use of Respondus Monitor in addition to the Lockdown Browser (see below).  Once installed, you simply open it, log in to Canvas and take your quiz.  Read more about Respondus Lockdown Browser. Please note that Chromebooks do not support the download of Lockdown Browser yet.  This is expected to be available soon.

  • Respondus Monitor is a video monitoring tool used by some instructors along with the Lockdown Browser that will allow for proctored, or supervised, exams that students will take online. Respondus Monitor can help ensure exam integrity for students taking their tests online outside of a testing center.  A camera and microphone are required to use Respondus Monitor.

  • ProctorU. The online, virtual, and specified hybrid/blended courses at SUSCC use an online proctoring service for the final exam in the course. A charge of $20 per course is assessed for each online course to cover the cost of online proctoring.  

    • ProctorU is a live online proctoring service that allows exam takers to complete their assessment at home while still ensuring the integrity of the exam for the institution. In order to use ProctorU you will need to have

      • a high-speed internet connection 
      • a webcam (internal or external)
      • private testing location
      • hand mirror (for showing the front of the computer to the proctor)
      • an updated Windows or Apple Operating System 
      • updated browser
      • an unexpired, government-issued photo ID  (2 are strongly recommended).   

ProctorU recommends that you visit proctoru.com/testitout prior to your proctoring session to test your equipment. For any technical problems you might have with your computer, you can click on the button that says “connect to a live person.”