System Requirements for LPS Courses

Modified on Fri, 10 May 2024 at 05:22 PM

Faculty and students in online or hybrid courses in Penn's College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS) are encouraged to review the system requirements for online and hybrid courses. This includes system and software requirements for Mac and PC computers, suggestions about browsers and internet connectivity, and expectations for participation in synchronous sessions. 

 

General System Requirements

Students are required to have a functioning PC or Mac desktop or laptop with camera, microphone, and speakers. Notebook computers like Chromebooks, phones, and tablets are NOT recommended as they do not support all course technologies.  

  • Functioning Computer, Camera, Microphone, Audio:  All students must have a working computer with webcam or separate camera, microphone, and speakers/headset, to take a Penn online course. It is the student's responsibility to make sure they have access to functioning devices and a strong internet connection. 
  • Asynchronous courses do require cameras, microphones, and audio speakers (or all-inclusive webcam) for multimedia assignments. Class participants will be expected to review and respond to the video/audio segments of faculty, staff, and peers.  Students will also be required to submit video and audio clips to class discussions, assignments, and group projects. 
  • Synchronous Sessions: Online programs and courses do offer synchronous sessions, and students will be required to turn on their webcam and microphone during these sessions. Additionally, students will be required to participate in synchronous meetings, such as advising sessions or instructor meetings, which require that both the webcam and microphone are turned on. 
  • The camera, mic, and speakers built into most laptops work well. For the best possible experiences, we recommend using a headset with a microphone. The Logitech Clear Chat USB headset often provides the best results. Smartphone earbuds with a microphone will work in a pinch, but a headset with a microphone is the best option. 
  • Your advisor can connect you with the best resource to answer questions about general requirements. 

 

System Recommendations

Evaluate your device - Minimum requirements below:  

  • Operating System: Windows 10, Windows 11, or Mac OS X 10.14 and above. 
  • Processor (CPU): Minimum 1 GHz (dual-core at minimum recommended). 
  • Memory (RAM): At least 8 GB. 
  • Storage: A minimum of 1 GB free disk space; both HDD and SSD are suitable. 
  • Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768 or higher. Unsure of your resolution? Find out: Screen Resolution Test 
  • Audio/Visual: A microphone, speakers, and either a built-in or external webcam. 
  • Internet Speed: Minimum of 1.5 Mbps download and 750 Kbps upload. Test your Speed here: Internet Speed Test 
  • Note: We do not recommend using an employer-issued computer to take online courses. Many employers restrict activity on computers, including the use of administrative controls that can interfere with your ability to complete coursework.  


Most computers built within the last 5 years will meet the above requirements.  

If you need assistance with purchasing a computer for online learning, please look into Penn’s Emergency and Opportunity Fund. 


Updates & Connection: 

  • Operating System & Browser Updates: Ensure your operating system and browsers are up-to-date. Updating fixes most issues encountered by students. 
  • Internet Connection: A wired broadband (cable, FiOS, or DSL) connection is highly recommended, with at least 1 Mbps upload and download. While 4G/5G/LTE networks can suffice, their performance is inconsistent. 

Browser Preferences: 

  • Primary Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome is preferred, with cookies and JavaScript enabled and pop-up blockers set to allow upenn.edu sites.  
  • Secondary Browser: Having an alternative browser like Firefox is advisable. 
  • Note: Microsoft Edge is not recommended. Additionally, some browsers perform better with cross-site tracking enabled in the settings area.

Software Downloads: 

  • Zoom: Requires a download for first-time use: Zoom download. The app is also available for mobile devices: Android Zoom app or iOS Zoom app.  
  • Note: Mobile devices should not be the primary device for courses but can be used for limited tasks like Canvas discussions. For this reason, we do not recommend relying solely on your mobile device to complete coursework—your primary device should always be a desktop or laptop. 

Microsoft Office: 

  • Office Suite: Full-time Penn students are eligible for a Microsoft Office download. Specific courses may require additional software, this will be detailed within the course information. 


Platform Considerations

Canvas

Canvas is Penn’s university-wide learning management system (LMS) and is used to host course sites and is a key site of asynchronous class activity. It is home to readings, video segments, discussion boards, quizzes and tests, group projects, and other assignments both in Canvas and in tools that integrate with Canvas. 

See also: 

 

Zoom

Zoom is a synchronous videoconferencing platform used in online and hybrid classes. It is similar to Skype or Google Hangouts in that it is webcam-driven, uses several adjustable windows rather than one, and also supports presentation and document share interactions. 

See also: 

 

Honorlock

Honorlock is a remote proctoring solution used in some online and hybrid classes. Students use a customized Chrome browser extension to take tests in Canvas. Honorlock's AI generates a flag for any behavior during the exam that falls outside of the instructions provided by the instructor. Instructors then review these flags to determine if an academic violation occurred. Students need a photo ID, webcam, microphone, and a quiet, well-lit room to take the test. 


Please note that students are not encouraged to take any exam on a Chromebook or mobile device. Students must use a PC or MAC desktop or laptop for classes that use Honorlock. 


See also: 


Learning outside the United States

 

Please note that some technologies used in online courses might be unavailable outside the United States. While some tools used in your online course (Canvas, Panopto, Zoom, etc.) are available in most countries, others might not be (Google Workspace, Vimeo, YouTube, etc.).

 

Before the add-drop period ends, it is recommended that you contact your instructor to ask if any technologies blocked in your country will be used in your course.

 

Get Help

Questions about these requirements? Please reach out to us at online-learning-help@sas.upenn.edu. 

 

 

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