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Software Suggestions

The Programs You'll Need for Your Online Class


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In order to get the most out of your online classes, you’ll need to have the proper software installed on your computer. Some computers are sold with software bundles and already have the software installed on their hard drive. Others include very little software.Whether you are buying a computer for the first time or are reviewing the software you’ll need to update, check to make sure you have these programs installed before starting at an online school:

(Note: Clicking on the freeware links will connect you with Download.com, where you can download the software at no cost.)

A word processing program. A word processing program covers all of your text editing needs. These programs allow users to format papers and create a variety of documents (letters, fax cover pages, etc). Most word processing programs include a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a spellchecker. Many also include clip art and numerous fonts. If you need to write papers for any of your online classes, it is essential that you have a word processing program. Be advised, if you choose a nonstandard program, it may be difficult for your online instructors to open documents you send as email attachments.

An internet browser. An internet browser is a program that allows you to view the internet. Most browsers provide a toolbar that gives you options such as placing bookmarks, reviewing your history, and altering your view of web pages. Choosing a popular browser will help ensure that you view pages as they were meant to be seen.

An email client. Email is essential for students who study online. You’ll likely be sending and receiving papers through email as well as using it as a means to communicate with your instructors and peers. An email client is a program that permits you to send and receive messages. Some programs include extra features such as address books, calendars, and notepads. Make sure that you choose a program that allows you enough room to receive the volume of mail you expect. Also, be sure to select a client that will allow you to send and receive attachments.

A document reader. Many schools and businesses use Adobe Acrobat to format documents (such as contracts, schedules, and tuition statements). In order to view these documents, you must download Adobe Acrobat Reader. This program is free and available at their website.

Security protection. The world wide web can be dangerous for computers, particularly for PCs. Viruses and spyware are constantly inviting themselves onto your hard drive. These troublemakers could cause your computer to be unstable or could even ruin your system. In order to protect your computer, you’ll need some type of anti-virus program. When selecting a program, consider the level of protection you desire. Some programs don’t let anything through to your computer, making it difficult to view a lot of popular websites that require cookies (small amounts of harmless, identifying information) to be sent to your computer. Others may be too lenient and allow damaging programs to download into your system.

A Media Player. A media player will allow you to see and hear any multimedia elements that may be included in your curriculum. Several online schools include pictures, videos, and audio clips that can only be accessed through a media player. Most basic media players are available as freeware.

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