Equipment Required

The advantages of distance learning must be weighed against the costs incurred. Specifically, online and distance courses require the student to acquire and maintain the technology needed for “attending” the class. In general, the technology requirements are within the typical range that the average adult has at home, though it is critical to check this prior to enrolling.

Every online and distance learning course requires the student to have access to a computer. Whether it is a laptop or desktop does not matter; it also does not matter if is your personal computer or that at your office, so long as you have permission to use it at the times necessary for the course. Most classes are compatible with all computer types and do not mandate a particular brand or operating system.

Online courses also require students to have Internet access. Asynchronous classes are uploaded onto a Web site to be downloaded via the Internet by students. Synchronous classes are streamed via live feed systems over the Internet. There really is no getting around this particular requirement. Luckily, there are free ways to access the Internet, such as at a local library or even most coffee shops, should the cost be prohibitive.

Generally, online and distance courses do not require software beyond the standard operating systems of most computers. However some technological courses, such as mathematics or accounting, may need special programs to train students. Medical practice management has several necessary technology-based courses, so this is a necessary consideration. The software for these programs may or may not be included in the course tuition. It is up to the student to check for additional software costs prior to enrolling.

While the cost of the technology needed to attend distance or online courses may seem overwhelming, it should be considered that today most traditional college settings require the same technology. Indeed, most colleges list personal computers and operating software among the prerequisites for attendance. Internet access is generally provided by the school, but course-specific software for technology classes is paid for by the student. So in essence, the technology needed for distance and online learning is approximately the same as that needed for live classes.

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