Minimum Technology Requirements
To be able to effectively learn in an ever-increasing hybrid/online world, it is important to have minimum technology requirements. This page will step you through the definitions of types of classes offered at the School of Social Work as well as a list of minimum physical technologies that you should have available to you.
Definitions: Face-to-Face (In Person), Online and Hybrid Courses
You should be proficient in the following:
basic computer skills - turning on and off, navigation, keeping the computer updated
sending/receiving email including sending and receiving attachments via email
using a web browser and knowing the difference between tabs, windows, address bars and URL's.
finding web resources through search engines
downloading and installing software and/or viewing electronic files
familiarity with using browser plug-ins (e.g. PDF reader, video, audio)
using a word processing, presentation software, or other productivity applications
experience/familiarity with a variety of file formats such as: .rtf "Rich Text Format", .doc or .docx "Microsoft Word Document", and .txt "Text document"
the ability to be self-directed in learning new technology skills (eg. following a handout, a step-by-step tutorial, online video help, or access to support to learn necessary skills)
Computer Hardware & Software Guidelines
In addition to having a computer, a large number of classes may require student participation in live virtual class activities using technologies such as Zoom,Blackboard Collaborate or Webex. The following recommendations will help you have a successful meeting:
quiet space with no external distractions
adequate lighting for video conferencing
a webcam (either external or built into the computer)
an audio input device such as a built-in microphone, headset or earbuds
You will need stable access to high speed Internet to for your hybrid/online courses. Cable broadband in your own home is strongly recommended. Your Internet connection is critical in viewing the content in Blackboard and participating in live virtual sessions.
Here are some places, in case your home network is interrupted, where you may find internet connectivity:
Wi-Fi parking lots at area libraries:
Pratt Library - Baltimore City:
PC or Mac with a Modern Fast Processor - 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster.
RAM: Computer memory is directly affected by how many programs are running at any given time. Based on the fact you will be using word processing, accessing the Internet at least 4 GB of RAM should be installed but 8 GB is preferred.
Sound: Sound and speakers are required. Some programs also require a headset and microphone.
Network: Wireless Ready or Ethernet
Monitor Screen: The screen needs to be minimal 800 by 600 but for best viewing experience 1024 x 768 or more. Many new monitors include built-in webcam and speakers.
Disk Space: 256 GB of disk space is required for software installation. Certain software components are required for full functionality of hybrid/online courses. To run an automatic system check, visit the Blackboard browser compatibility page.
PLEASE NOTE: not all functions work on all devices. We strongly advise against trying to complete the MSW program on a mobile phone, since there are functions in Blackboard that ONLY work properly on a laptop or desktop computer. If you try working on a mobile phone and something doesn't work, we suggest trying Chrome, Safari and the Blackboard app - and it if still doesn't work, your only option is to use a laptop or desktop computer.
Google Chrome is recommended for viewing all hybrid/online courses in Blackboard. However, the three major browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer/Edge if PC or Safari if Mac) should be installed as a backup for non Blackboard related content.
For Collaborate Ultra, Chrome is highly recommended, and Safari/Internet Explorer are not supported.
A Windows operating system is recommended, and our learning system works best with Windows 10. Desktop versions Windows 8.1 are also supported
Most programs will work on Macintosh OS X platforms. For students using a Macintosh computer, the following specifications should be met:
Mac OS X 11.1 (Big Sur)
Mac OS X 10.15 (Catalina)
Mac OS X 10.14 (Mojave)
Mac OS X 10.13 (High Sierra)
The following plug-ins are required for use with our online programs:
Accessibility and Screen Readers
This is for information purposes, for any students who might desire to use a screen reader. Note that screen reader capability is now built into both Mac (Voiceover) and Windows (Narrator) systems. Informational links are below:
VoiceOver (latest version for Safari on Macintosh)
Narrator (Windows built in)
Chrome browser plugins: Screen Reader
NVDA (Free, Open Source, latest version for Firefox on Windows)
JAWS (latest version for Firefox on Windows)
Per the campus IT anti-virus policy, we recommend installing the following software on Windows/Intel laptops:
Symantec Endpoint Protection antivirus (available at a discounted price from the UMB campus software office)
Email and Microsoft Office Apps
All Faculty, Staff, and Students receive full access to Office 365 including Outlook (email), Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Microsoft Teams, and more. Visit the CITS help page to learn more about Office 365. If you'd like to install the Office 365 applications on your computer, here's how you can get them:
Go to https://portal.office.com and log in with your @umaryland email address, UMID, password and Duo.
Once you are in, you should see a suite of tools, with a link in the upper right to "Install Office" - click that and choose Office 365 apps to download Powerpoint, etc. applications on your computer. You will then be able to open/play powerpoint files on your computer.
Blackboard Course Availability
NOTE: Your instructor can control whether the course is available to students or not. If you see a course listed under My Courses Plus on the My Institution tab that is Not Available - you should email your instructor to request access. Please do not email the IDEA Team or other SSW staff for this.
Also: The IDEA Team, working with UMB CITS, archives Bb classes older than 3 years and removes them from Blackboard. The archives are able to be restored if at some point a faculty member requests this. If you intend to keep/store materials from classes, it is highly recommended to download and store them at the time of your class, as you progress through the class.
CITS, who manage the UMID and campus email, has its own policies regarding how long after graduation you can still log in with your UMID to access email/Blackboard. Please contact email@example.com for more information if needed.
If you intend to keep/store materials from classes, it is highly recommended to download and store them at the time of your class, as you progress through the class. The IDEA Team estimates graduates will have 6 months after graduation to log in and download course materials, as long as the faculty member has not turned off course access. It could be longer.
**According to UMB CITS Directory department: Alumni will always be able to authenticate to Blackboard. Non-degree students will lose access roughly a year after taking their last class.