8 Technology Tips for Online Students to Boost Productivity

Use technology to your advantage as an online student with tips from the Penn State World Campus HelpDesk.

Image by Ginny via flickr
Image by Ginny via Flickr

As an online student, you probably know that your computer is one of the most important tools you use. To help you make sure you’re getting the best possible performance and productivity from it, Penn State World Campus HelpDesk staff members offer these tips:

1. Know your shortcut keys for your operating system. Using keyboard shortcuts can save you time and effort in completing tasks that might otherwise require a mouse or other device.

2. Keep current with software updates. If you use a PC, make a point of routinely running and installing Windows Updates. In Windows 8, in Apps View, search for “windows update” and then select “check for updates” to run the process manually. In Windows 7, open the “Start” menu and then search for “windows update” and select “check for updates.” Windows 10 installs updates automatically.

If you use a Mac, select the Apple icon and then select “software update.” To ensure that updates are made automatically, go to “System Preferences” and then “App Store” and make sure that “Automatically check for updates” is selected, as well as each of the three options below that selection.

Update JavaFlash, and QuickTime as updates become available. These programs will periodically check for updates after they are installed. Some browsers may also update them automatically.

3. Create a separate login profile just for your course work. Windows and Mac systems both allow you to set up multiple login profiles. This will allow you to keep your work or personal files separate from your school files, which may be especially important if you share a computer with your family or others in your household.

4. Dedicate a web browser to use only for course work if you prefer. This is another effective way to keep your school activity separate from personal or work activity.

Penn State World Campus recommends Firefox as a browser for your course work. You can download Firefox for free.

5. Back up files regularly by copying them onto a USB flash drive or external hard drive, to keep from losing them if there is an accident or system crash.

6. Contact the HelpDesk immediately if you have a problem during a timed quiz or exam, even after hours, since an email or voice mail will have a date and time stamp. This will create a record of your efforts to get assistance in case you are unable to complete your exam.

7. When submitting attachments to a drop box, try selecting your submission after it is ready to confirm that the file is attached and readable.

8. Take advantage of the free technology resources that Penn State provides to students:

  • Downloads.its.psu.edu: Provides antivirus protection and other downloadable tools
  • Microsoft Office 2016: Provides Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other programs; note that students must select the link for Penn State students to download Microsoft Office from the page linked here.
  • WebApps: Provides programs that can be accessed on most mobile devices
  • WebFiles: Allows you to access and manage your files and copy files from other services like Google Docs, Dropbox, and SkyDrive
  • Box at Penn State: Allows you to store and share files securely online
  • Lynda: Offers online training for commonly used programs. This becomes available to students after the first week of classes.

Feel free to contact the Penn State World Campus HelpDesk at any time with technical support questions or for help with Penn State systems.

by World Campus HelpDesk Staff

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