Technology requirements | Kent State University

Technology requirements

What you need to know in order to keep your computer operating system, software applications, and web browsers up-to-date, as well as how to connect to Kent State University's online resources such as Blackboard Learn and University Libraries.

The Kent State Online Technology Help Center can help you with problems with Blackboard, logging in to your online course, as well as hardware and software issues. Contact TechHelp by either submitting a Support Ticket or get help via a LiveChat with support staff. You can also call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at: 330-672-HELP.

Hardware requirements

A laptop or desktop with the following minimum specifications is required:

  • Laptop computer with a minimum of a 2GHz processor and 2GB of RAM
  • Desktop computer with a minimum of a 2GHz processor and 4GB of RAM 

Online courses that require students to use processor intensive software applications may have special computer hardware requirements. If you think your course might have such requirements, please contact the instructor. The Kent State University Bookstore often has student discounts available on purchases of new computer hardware.

Internet access

A DSL, cable connection, or greater is recommended.  Online classes at Kent State University employ a variety of multimedia materials that will be viewed and downloaded.  You must have a connection that allows for the streaming and downloading of potentially large size files in a timely manner.  Dial-up is not sufficient.

Software requirements

Kent State University provides technical support for a limited number of operating systems and software applications. The following required computer operating systems and software applications are supported by the KSU Helpdesk:

  1. Windows 7 or newer system operating software for PC computers
  2. Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or newer system operating software for Apple Mac computers
  3. Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  4. Antivirus for Windows OS, Microsoft Security Essentials
  5. Antivirus for Mac OS, Sophos
  6. Adobe Acrobat Reader

A list of available free and/or discounted software downloads for students is available at Active, full-time, and part-time students who are registered for classes are provided with free access to Office 365 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, and Access (PC Only). Additional software such as Windows 10, can be purchased for a discount at the Kent State University Microsoft site.

For a more detailed list of technology recommendations and links to help information for setting up your computer for course work, please review the Kent State Technology Viewbook.

Update your computer operating system

Keeping your operating system up to date is important for security features and bug fixes

  • For Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1:
    • Locate the Start button in the task bar. Click on the Start button and select "All Programs". Select "Windows Update". Click check for updates.
  • For Windows 10
    • Locate the Start button in the task bar. Click on Settings in the left pane, then click Update and Security. Click check for updates.
  • For Mac OS X Users:
    • Locate the Apple icon in the top left corner of the desktop menu bar. Click on the Apple, select “App Store...". Then click on the Update tab (it will check for updates).

Update your web browser

In order to ensure maximum compatibility with the features and functions of the Blackboard Learn learning management system, you MUST update your web browser to the latest updated version of ONE of the following:

Once you have downloaded and installed your choice of web browser, make sure to change the web browser's preference setting to automatically download updates.

Install web browser plug-ins

Download and install the following (for both PC and Apple Mac platforms):

  • Required Java - The latest Java version contains important enhancements to improve performance, stability and security of the Java applications that run on your machine. Installing this free update will ensure that your Java applications continue to run safely and efficiently.
  • Required Flash  - Adobe Flash Player is a cross-platform, browser-based application that provides viewing of applications, content, and videos across various browsers and operating systems. Be sure to keep Flash up to date with the latest bug fixes and security features.

Connecting from Off-Campus

KSU Proxy allows Library users to securely connect to databases, electronic journals, ebooks and streaming media services without installing complicated third-party software. When you attempt to access library content from off campus, you’re prompted to enter your FlashLine username and password after which you’re connected. It’s that easy.

The Virtual Private Network (VPN) service is also available which allows you to create a secure connection via the Internet between your computer and the Kent State University network. This service can be used if the Proxy is unavailable or if you already have the VPN installed.

Information on how to install and configure Cisco VPN to create a remote connection between your personal computer and KSU network can be found at knowledgebase.

Privacy Policies

It is important to understand what information is being collected about you in the systems you interact with.  Online courses at Kent State University are conducted in Blackboard Learn.  For any questions on what information Blackboard Learn collects please refer to the Blackboard Learn privacy policy.

Youtube is often used in online courses.  For any questions about what information Google collects and how it is used please refer to the Youtube privacy policy.

Online Proctored Testing

Some courses have proctored testing for exams. Kent State University uses Proctorio and ProctorU for online proctored testing. If your course is using Proctorio you will need the Proctorio Chrome browser extension. If your course uses ProctorU, visit the Kent portal for ProctorU to learn how it works and what you need to get started. More information on proctored testing is also available for your reference.

Install Blackboard Instant Messenger

Not sure whether or not your instructor intends to use the Blackboard IM tool?

Check the course syllabus, and the main navigation for a link to Blackboard IM. IF a link to Blackboard IM is present in the course menu under the Course Tools subheading AND Blackboard IM is specified in the syllabus as the course tool for virtual office hours, then view instructions below.

Blackboard IM (Instant Messenger) is a software application used for collaborative group work and virtual office hours that allows students to communicate and interact with classmates and the instructor in your online course via instant chat, white board, screen sharing, voice and video. Watch a quick overview of Blackboard IM. In order to download and install Blackboard IM, you must first create an account:

  1. Locate the Blackboard IM link in the left sidebar main navigation of your Blackboard Learn course
  2. Click on the link. If a web page is loaded in the browser that asks you to create a Wimba Pronto account, click on the link.
  3. Follow the instructions to create an account, download, and install Blackboard IM
  4. Watch the video tutorial on How to Install Blackboard IM

Once you've downloaded and installed Blackboard IM, launch the application. A list of courses in which you're currently enrolled should automatically appear in Blackboard IM. A list of enrolled students and the instructor should appear for each course. Blackboard IM is useful for joining online office hours. If used for this purpose please see the PDF below Blackboard IM Office Hours for Students. You can also watch a screencast tutorial Blackboard IM Office Hours for Students.

Several quick reference guides are available to help you get started using Blackboard IM:

  1. Blackboard IM Getting Started
  2. Blackboard IM Managing Contacts
  3. Blackboard IM Introduction to Chat and Group Chat
  4. Blackboard IM Working with the Collaboration Window
  5. Blackboard IM Introduction to Audio and Video
  6. Blackboard IM Office Hours for Students (PDF)

For additional instructions or questions, please refer to the complete Blackboard IM user guide.  (Click on the Table of Contents button in the bottom left side navigation if no links appear in the main menu).