Online Learning Tech Requirements

Online programs at Black Hawk College utilize Canvas as the online education platform for students to interact with their instructor and fellow students and to complete assignments. To operate Canvas, students must have basic internet skills, consistent access to a Windows PC or Mac, and know how to perform the following tasks:

  • Upload files as email attachments.
  • Submit online assignments.
  • Use discussion boards, email and chats.
  • Use Microsoft Office software, primarily MS Word.

Note: Do not rely on smartphones or Chromebooks. Access to website functionality and required course materials is limited on mobile devices, and Chromebooks do not support the necessary software.


Students also must have compatible hardware and software. Please explore the following areas to learn more about online tech requirements at Black Hawk College.

Computer Requirements
  1. Hardware:
    • Students must primarily use a desktop computer or laptop (Windows PC or Mac).
    • Google Chromebooks are not fully compatible with some required software and therefore cannot be used for all online classes.
    • Online classes cannot be completed on a smartphone or tablet, but they can be used as a secondary means of communication by using the Canvas Mobile App.
    • iPad users would download RLDB from the Apple App Store. Note: The instructor must have the option to allow an iPad to be used selected.
  2. Minimum Screen Size:
    • Windows PC: 1280 x 768
    • Mac: 1280 x 800
  3. Compatible Operating Systems:
    • Windows PC: Windows 10 or higher
    • Mac: OSX 10.10 or higher.
  4. Random Access Memory (RAM)
    • Windows PC: 4 GB RAM (for most PCs); 2 GB RAM (on a 32-bit system)
    • Mac: 4 GB RAM
  5. Processor:
    • Windows PC: 2.0 GHz processor
    • Mac: Intel
  6. High-Speed Internet Connection:
    • High-speed/broadband access is required for most courses.
    • Do not rely on public Wi-Fi or dial-up access. The use of public access Wi-Fi (for example, at restaurants or libraries) may result in slowness or errors.
  7. Supported Web Browsers:
    • Be sure you have the latest version of your favorite web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge.
    • Internet Explorer is not supported.
    • Tip: If you have trouble with one browser, try a different one.
  8. Word Processing Software:
    • Most courses require word-processing such as MS Word and the ability to save files as .docx, .doc, .rtf or .pdf.
    • BHC students can get MS Office for free. Directions for downloading MS Office.
  9. Canvas Mobile App
    • Again, do not rely on smartphones and tablets. They can be used as a secondary means of access to course materials but their functionality is limited.
    • Android: Version 5.0 or higher.
    • iOS: Version 13.0 or higher.
    • How to download the Canvas Mobile App


Microphone, Speakers & Webcam (or Audio & Video)
  • Some courses will require a microphone to use with Canvas or web proctoring.
  • Some webcams and laptops have microphones already built in. If yours does not, you may need to purchase a webcam or microphone.
  • Headphone/earbuds/speakers for listening.
  • A webcam/camera capable of video conferencing or recording speeches (SPEC 101).
  • Note: For online completely sections of SPEC 101, students are required to record their speeches following requirements set by IAI. View requirements for the Online Completely SPEC 101 Course
Exams and Testing

Most online courses will require you to take online tests that are monitored; these are known as "proctored exams." Some online courses might give you the choice to take a proctored exam at a BHC Testing Center and/or via BHC's web proctoring tools.

The first tool is Respondus LockDown Browser (RLDB) Use the following for installation instructions:

    1. Log in to the Chromebook start Google Chrome.
    2. Log in to Canvas and navigate to the exam that requires LockDown Browser.
    3. Select the link for downloading and installing LockDown Browser.
    4. From the Chrome web store, select “Add to Chrome” to install the LockDown Browser Extension.
  • iPad users would download RLDB from the Apple App Store. Note: The instructor must have the option to allow an iPad to be used selected.
  • If you are using a Chromebook managed by a high school or employer, hopefully they have already added the RLDB extension to your device. If not, and your course requires it, please send the LockDown Administrator Guide (PDF) to the person who manages the Chromebook devices.

* If using Windows S Mode, you must switch out of it or find an alternative; cannot switch S Mode back into.

The second tool is Respondus Monitor. Some courses require a test to be proctored via RLDB and Respondus Monitor. Please watch this video to learn more about Respondus Monitor.

Courses that are completely online might give you the choice to take a proctored test at a BHC Testing Center.

Respondus Monitor requires:

  • Webcam with microphone.
  • High-speed/broadband internet connection.
  • Installation of BHC’s RLDB.
  • Identification: You will be required to take a picture of your government-issued photo ID. Acceptable ID includes driver's license or photo ID card. The ID must include your photo and name. (You may cover up personal information, e.g. driver's license number, address, weight, height, etc.)

Note: As part of BHC’s agreement with Respondus, Respondus offers support to all of our users. Please go to our Online Learning Orientation Troubleshooting page for details about submitting a ticket to Respondus.


Further Information

For further information regarding technical requirements, please visit these links:

Note: These are the basic requirements for most online classes. Please check for a "Course Objectives and Technical Requirements" link for any class that you are taking or thinking about taking to see if there are further requirements. Search courses here.

Remember to have a backup plan! When taking an online course it is always a good idea to have a backup plan in case of connection issues and/or equipment failure. Most libraries have internet access, or you may have a friend you can call on in the event of technical problems. The Black Hawk College computer labs also are available during hours of operation. Having a backup plan can prevent lots of stress later!