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Minimum Technology Requirements

Introduction

To be able to effectively learn in an ever-increasing hybrid/online world, it is important to have minimum technology requirements. This page will step you through the definitions of types of classes offered at the School of Social Work as well as a list of minimum physical technologies that you should have available to you. 


Definitions: Face-to-Face, Online and Hybrid Courses


Title     Description and Definition Student Recommendations How to Identify
 F2F Face-to-Face courses, also know as traditional classes. In most cases, these courses are likely to be augmented with a technology support system - where materials, activities, resources are posted online (in Blackboard) for students to access via the internet.Prior to COVID-19, these courses were recommended for students who wish to learn in the classroom only or for students who have technology constraints or access issues. As we adapt to a new environment, students will likely see more use of technology used by the instructor. Section numbers 01, 02, 03, etc.
 Hybrid (Blended)A blend of F2F and online. Some of the instruction and activities are F2F in the classroom, and some are online. Online activities may include participating in asynchronous discussion forum (asynchronous learning is a term used to describe instruction and learning that occurs in different locations, but also at different times), self-assessments, group projects, viewing lecture content, quizzes, assignments, etc.

At least 1 credit worth of activities are online, therefore, normally an equivalent amount of time is taken away from F2F class time. Note: most hybrid courses require synchronous activities (synchronous learning is a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that occur at the same time, but not in the same place), such as classwork, videoconferencing, exams or live group meetings. See the notes in the course schedule to be sure you are available at those times in advance of registering.

Note that hybrid courses have the same rigor and requirements as F2F courses, and require the same amount of time/homework/reading. The time is just split between online and in-person activities.
Recommended for students who seek a little extra flexibility, less travel, have some more technical experience and equipment with computers/online technologies (see below) , and wish to experience the benefits of a combination of in-class and online learning.Sections HY1, HY2, (etc.) + HSG (at Shady Grove)
 OnlineAn entirely online course which may not require the student (or instructor) to be in a specific geographical location at any given point. This is the temporary normal that most students are experiencing during COVID-19.

Note:
Some online courses may still require synchronous activities, such as videoconferencing, exams, or live group meetings. Each course is clearly defined so please see the notes in the course schedule to be sure you are available at those times in advance of registering.

Online courses have the same rigor and requirements as F2F courses and require the same amount of time/homework/reading. They are not typically self-paced, and students are expected to proceed through the class on a regular weekly basis, with several requirements to meet each week. They are as interactive and engaging as a face-to-face class. The class time is spent entirely or almost entirely online. Some of these courses may require students to take exams at particular times.
Recommended for students who desire extra flexibility, little to no travel, are self-motivated, and have technological experience and equipment. Also designed for students in a post COVID-19 environment who do not feel comfortable with large gatherings or group environments.  Sections WB1, WB2, etc. + WSG (Shady Grove)


Technology Proficiencies

You should be proficient in the following:
  • basic computer skills - turning on and off, navigation, keeping the computer updated
  • sending/receiving email including sending and receiving attachments via email
  • using a web browser and knowing the difference between tabs, windows, address bars and URL's.
  • finding web resources through search engines
  • downloading and installing software and/or viewing electronic files
  • familiarity with using browser plug-ins (e.g. PDF reader, video, audio)
  • using a word processing, presentation software, or other productivity applications
  • experience/familiarity with a variety of file formats such as: .rtf "Rich Text Format", .doc or .docx "Microsoft Word Document", and .txt "Text document"
  • the ability to be self-directed in learning new technology skills (eg. following a handout, a step-by-step tutorial, online video help, or access to support to learn necessary skills)


Computer Hardware & Software Guidelines

Video Conferencing

In addition to having a computer, a large number of classes may require student participation in live virtual class activities using technologies such as Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate or Webex. The following recommendations will help you have a successful meeting:

  • quiet space with no external distractions
  • adequate lighting for video conferencing
  • a webcam (either external or built into the computer)
  • an audio input device such as a built-in microphone, headset or earbuds

Internet Connection

You will need stable access to high speed Internet to for your hybrid/online courses. Cable broadband in your own home is strongly recommended. Your Internet connection is critical in viewing the content in Blackboard and participating in live virtual sessions. 

Here are some places, in case your home network is interrupted, where you may find internet connectivity:

General Requirements

  • PC or Mac with a Modern Fast Processor - 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster.
  • RAM: Computer memory is directly affected by how many programs are running at any given time. Based on the fact you will be using word processing, accessing the Internet at least 4 GB of RAM should be installed but 8 GB is preferred.
  • Sound: Sound and speakers are required. Some programs also require a headset and microphone.
  • Network: Wireless Ready or Ethernet
  • Monitor Screen: The screen needs to be minimal 800 by 600 but for best viewing experience 1024 x 768 or more. Many new monitors include built-in webcam and speakers.
  • Disk Space: 256 GB of disk space is required for software installation. Certain software components are required for full functionality of hybrid/online courses. To run an automatic system check, visit the Blackboard browser compatibility page.
  • PLEASE NOTE: not all functions work on all devices. We strongly advise against trying to complete the MSW program on a mobile phone, since there are functions in Blackboard that ONLY work properly on a laptop or desktop computer. If you try working on a mobile phone and something doesn't work, we suggest trying Chrome, Safari and the Blackboard app - and it if still doesn't work, your only option is to use a laptop or desktop computer. 

Internet Browser

Google Chrome is recommended for viewing all hybrid/online courses in Blackboard. However, the three major browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer/Edge if PC or Safari if Mac) should be installed as a backup for non Blackboard related content.

Download Chrome for free here.

For Collaborate Ultra, Chrome is highly recommended, and Safari/Internet Explorer are not supported.

Operating System

  • A Windows operating system is recommended, and our learning system works best with Windows 10. Desktop versions Windows 8.1 are also supported 
  • Most programs will work on Macintosh OS X platforms. For students using a Macintosh computer, the following specifications should be met:
    • Mac OS X 10.15 (Catalina)
    • Mac OS X 10.14 (Mojave)
    • Mac OS X 10.13 (High Sierra)

Plug-ins

The following plug-ins are required for use with our online programs:
Adobe Reader
Adobe Shockwave
Apple Quicktime
Java

Anti-Virus

Per the campus IT anti-virus policy, we recommend installing the following software on Windows/Intel laptops:
Symantec Endpoint Protection antivirus (available at a discounted price from the UMB campus software office)

Email and Microsoft Office

All Faculty, Staff, and Students receive full access to Office 365 including Outlook (email), Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Microsoft Teams, and more. Visit the CITS help page to learn more about Office 365.


Resources:


Blackboard Course Availability

  • NOTE: Your instructor can control whether the course is available to students or not. If you see a course listed under My Courses Plus on the My Institution tab that is Not Available - you should email your instructor to request access. 
  • Also: The IDEA Team, working with UMB CITS, archives Bb classes older than 3 years and removes them from Blackboard. The archives are able to be restored if at some point a faculty member requests this. 
  • CITS, who manage the UMID and campus email, has its own policies regarding how long after graduation you can still log in with your UMID to access email/Blackboard. Please contact help@umaryland.edu for more information if needed. 
  • If you intend to keep/store materials from classes, it is highly recommended to download and store them at the time of your class, as you progress through the class.


Additional Help and Support

The IDEA Team is here to support you. We can be reached in a number of ways:
  1. Complete an online form. We will respond within 24 hours, or next business day if on weekends/holidays.
  2. Contact the IDEA Line: 410-870-9663 (available Monday through Friday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm)
  3. Email: ideateam@ssw.umaryland.edu
  4. Request Live Help: http://v.ht/sswideateamzoom (Works best with laptop/webcam. You may need to wait a minute or three for a team member to join you.)
  5. Consider searching the IDEA Toolbox to see if you can find a solution.












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