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Preparing for Your Online Course

Before you start your online course, you should make sure that you have all the necessary information and course materials and that your computer meets the minimum requirements.

  1. Do you meet the course prerequisites?

  2. Does your computer meet the minimum requirements for taking an online course?

    • Operating System: Windows: Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 or Macintosh: OS 10.4 or higher.
    • Hardware:
      • Sound card
      • Windows:
        • Minimum specifications: Pentium IV with 3 gigahertz processor of RAM
        • Recommended: Duo Care with 2 gigahertz processor
      • Macintosh:
        • Minimum Specifications: Intel Core Solo 1.6 gigahertz with 1 gigabyte of RAM
        • Recommended: Intel Due Core with 2 gigabyte of RAM
  3. Do you have a Web browser installed on your computer and a reliable internet connection?
    • We recommend Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0 or Firefox 3.5 or higher for your browser.
    • We recommend that you have a high speed internet connection. Some course features, such as video segments, may load slowly or incompletely when a dial-up connection is used. In addition, some courses require a high speed connection for certain assignments.
    • You should have your Internet provider’s telephone number and technical support available for your classes.

  4. When you go to the Canvas login, Canvas will run a System Check. You should have all green checks.

  5. Some courses may require that you have certain software or viewers installed on your computer. Software requirements may include Microsoft Word or PowerPoint.
    • To check to be sure you have all the software needed for the course, go to the course launch pad. Listed by each of your courses you will see the software that is used for each course.
    • For additional information, such as your course log-on and password, you will need to contact your instructor.

  6. Have you registered for the online course you wish to take?

  7. Are you checking your Hawkeye email regularly? All information will be sent to you via your Hawkeye email including any additional information your instructor wishes to send for you to prepare for your online course. It is important to regularly check your Hawkeye email before your online class starts and during the semester.

  8. Purchase your textbooks. Some courses may require an access code to get into the course. The access code will be available in the course textbook. Your instructor will provide information about using this access code.

  9. If you live near Waterloo, stop by main campus to get your Hawkeye Card student ID, your free parking pass, and free Student Planner. You will need your Hawkeye Card student ID to check out physical materials from the Library for assignments and for other services that are available to students.

  10. Attend the orientation for your course, if required.

  11. Make a plan on how you will manage your time. Good time-management skills and the ability to establish and follow priorities are two very important skills for success.

    A common formula to figure out how much time you should schedule to spend on your course, both on-campus and distance learning courses is the same:

    course credits x 3 = A
    course credits + A = the number of hours per week you should schedule to work on your course.

    For example, if you are taking a three credit course your calculation would look like this:

    3 course credits x 3 = 9 (A)
    3 course credits + 9 (A) = 12 hours

    You should plan to spend 12 hours a week working on your online course.

Distance Learning

Dean of Online Learning

Robin Galloway
Tama Hall 110A
Email me

Hawkeye Canvas Assistance

Bremer Hall 127
Email us

Canvas Support Hotline


You can also use the Help link found in the upper right corner of Canvas anytime you are logged in.

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