What Every Online Student Needs

USW Online offers you the convenience and flexibility to complete a single course or your entire bachelor's, master's, or licensure program fully online. Before you take the next step toward pursing an online education with us, we want to ensure you’ll be fully prepared. Below you will find a list of things you'll need to know and have in order to be successful.

Learning Style
Taking a course or program online requires self-discipline, commitment, organization, and the ability to work comfortably with a computer. You’ll be expected to engage with other online students and communicate regularly with your professor.

Time Commitment
While you won't be required to sign into the class at a specific time, you'll be expected to submit coursework on time and participate regularly in discussions. To be successful, undergraduates can anticipate spending 10-15 hours per week on a single course. Graduates can expect to spend 15-20 hours per week per course.

System Requirements
In order to receive the optimal learning experience online, you will need to have a personal computer available for daily use and ensure it meets the specifications below.

CPU:        Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz, equivalent or better (at least dual core)
RAM:        At least 2GB, 4GB in 64-bit systems (more RAM is almost always better)
OS:        Windows XP SP2 – Windows 7 or Mac OSX 10.6.x (Snow Leopard) or higher
Webcam:    Some courses require the use of Tegrity, a video capture and submission system. This system requires a webcam and microphone at minimum. Windows users can capture their video on any digital source and copy it to their computer. Users can then use the Tegrity software to upload this video as if it were recorded by Tegrity. Mac users must use a webcam/microphone due to Apple-approved App limitations.

Some classes for the School of Education require the use of a Windows Operating System so Mac users may need to use boot camp and purchase a windows license or get access to a windows computer for specific portions of their course.

Web Browsers
Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer tend to work well. Occasionally an update to Chrome or Firefox has broken some functionality that students need. It is recommended that if you find yourself having trouble in a preferred browser that you fall back on the native offering for your Operating System. Other browsers such as Netscape or Opera are not recommended.

Mobile Computing
Users of iOS and Android devices may wish to use their mobile devices in place of a full computer. Because not all coursework can be supported on a mobile device, USW recommends that students do not solely rely on utilizing a mobile device.

Internet access
USW Internet courses require a minimum internet connection equal to a DSL connection with a download speed of 756kbps. Some courses require the upload of large files, thus a faster connection will be more desirable. Streaming video and similar offerings may be required to fully download before viewing on connections of this speed and slower connections may not allow the viewing of such media reliably.

Not all courses will require these exact specifications. Some will allow for a lower power computer and some will work better with a more powerful one. The same can be said for internet connectivity.  It is recommended that you test your connection speed to the region in which University of the Southwest is located to get a good idea of your ability to make use of our online programs.

Using www.speedtest.net or another testing site and running a test connection to any server located in South East New Mexico should give a good indicator as to your real connectivity to our system. Internet speeds fluctuate based on the customer load your ISP is currently under and that of other ISPs you connect through on the way from your local area to ours. Not all speed test sites are created equally and it is a good idea to try a few of them to give you a full picture of your prospects.

Required Software
In the case of written work, USW instructors require that assignments be submitted in either Microsoft Word .doc or .docx or be submitted as .rtf (Rich Text Format) files. Students can either purchase a copy of Microsoft Office from sites like http://www.varsitybuys.com or http://store.microsoft.com or from a preferred retailer.  Students can also use the freely available Microsoft Web Applications accessible through http://www.skydrive.com. A Live Account is required for use of SkyDrive.

Some courses will require specialized software that may come with the books used or may need to be purchased in addition to the student’s books. Some courses in the School of Education may require the use of Microsoft products beyond Word, PowerPoint or Excel. In these cases it is recommended that students purchase Microsoft Office University Edition from the sites listed above. The use of Open Office is not recommended due to incompatibilities with formatting between the two suites.