Computer Skills & Preparation

Learn keyboard

Online coursework requires ensuring that your computer meets the most common checks for browsing, viewing and completing tasks in the learning environment. In addition to preparing your computer, it is important that you are prepared and understand some of the skills required to ensure that you are a successful online learner and have a positive online experience.

This page is intended to provide you with very important checks designed at providing you an opportunity to review and make any necessary adjustments prior to entering the online learning environment.

Technical Preparation | Computer System Requirements | Computer Skills | Managing WSU Email

Technical Preparation:

  1. Verify that you are using a browser supported by our current version of Blackboard. You can see a list of supported browsers here. Remember to keep your browser software up-to-date by allowing them to perform updates when they recommend it.
  2. Use standard file names that include your name or WSU ID as well as the assignment name but avoid using symbols such as "#". This will create issues for your instructor or others opening your file. Your instructor may also have provided some guidelines for naming submitted files in the syllabus. Check with your instructor or syllabus for any additional/differing requirements.
  3. Make sure you have good and reliable Internet access such as DSL or Cable. It is not recommended to be on wireless connections for any streaming content (such as Panopto videos), large file downloads, or quiz taking.
  4. Antivirus and spyware software may create issues. Ensure that you know how to change the settings so that they don't interfere with the normal operations of your online course.
  5. Make sure your computer is up to date with any security patches, browser updates, etc.
  6. Don't assume your instructor can open a WPS or ODC file. Consider saving files in more common formats such as Word 2003/2007, RTF or as PDF. Check with your instructor or syllabus for any additional/differing requirements.
  7. Emails sent from Blackboard are sent to your WSU email address. Even if you are forwarding, you will need to keep this inbox clean or empty enough to receive emails.
  8. If experiencing issues staying logged into Blackboard or to confirm that your login is working, users may wish to try logging in at

Computer System Requirements:

To participate in hybrid or fully-online courses at WSU, students are expected to be familiar with computers and the Internet. Students are responsible for their own software and computer equipment maintenance and setup.

Basic System

Other Software

  • A word processing software program, such as Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or Google Docs.
  • Current Virus software that must be installed and kept up to date. Learn more about the importance of virus protection.
  • Multimedia plug-ins may be required to allow your browser to access online video, or interactive features. (See Blackboard Java and other Browser Plugins)

Class Specific Requirements

  • Carefully check your syllabus; your class may have other computer or software requirements, such as a sound card and speakers.

Computer Skills:

The following items are a list of common skills that you should have in order to be successful online.

Computer Terms and Quick Tips
Short List of Terms and Definitions Find a File
Cut and Paste Save Favorite Links
Save a File  

General Skills

  • Start up, shutdown, or restart your computer
  • Enter text (content)
  • Navigate on the computer to find files
  • Scrolling - to view and move within an entire page
  • Connect to and use the Internet
  • Create, rename, delete, copy, and move directories, folders, and files
  • Transfer, download, upload

Program Management Skills

  • Start and quit programs
  • Install/uninstall software and plug-ins
  • Word processing - cut, paste, rename, delete, save, and retrieve text, pictures and files
  • Desktop features - resize, move, maximize, minimize, and close windows

Communication Skills

  • Email - create, send, forward, reply, save, group mail, and attachments
  • Discussions Boards - post, send, and review messages
  • Chats - follow proper etiquette for live chats

Always check with the instructor and course materials (i.e. syllabus) for any additional requirements.

Managing WSU Email:

Managing your WSU email is important to your success. Blackboard sends Daily Notifications to this email address and instructors often send direct emails or email copies of new announcements to your WSU email account. Students have the ability to setup a forward from this account to another email such as Gmail or MS Live but still must maintain the inbox. Failing to manage the space of one's inbox/email will result in emails being rejected when you no longer have space. Below is important information to review regarding access and management of your WSU email account.

To access your student email account, you must login to and click on the link in the upper right hand corner that looks like an envelope. You can also log directly into student email by going to Use the same credentials to login here as you would myWSU. For password problems, click here.

Please note: If you are a faculty or staff member who is also taking a class, Blackboard will default to your university email as the default email address. This means that all Blackboard emails will be sent to your work email address (i.e. It is not possible to change this setting by a student or administrator as changes are overwritten by updates from Banner/myWSU which contain your work email address as the default.