Accredited Online Colleges That Offer Laptops & Other Tech Perks

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According to the most recent Student Watch report, college students spent an average of $413 on course materials during the 2019-20 academic year. This figure demonstrates a significant decrease compared to the previous decade, but this amount is still high for many students.

Online students must purchase the equipment needed to take web-based courses. As a result, some online colleges and universities provide distance learners with laptops and other devices or technology discounts.

Read on for more about technical requirements for online courses, along with the top online schools that provide computer tech perks to students.

Read more about what these colleges offer

How Student Technology Policies Work

Technology perks at colleges and universities are not the same. Before making any decisions or taking advantage of a laptop program, be sure to read the fine print and understand how these programs differ. Here are a few common rules and regulations students may find regarding laptop programs and other tech policies offered by colleges:

Obtaining the Computer

At some schools, students must claim their laptops during their first academic year or semester. Those who do not must forfeit their free or discounted device. Other institutions issue laptops and other devices once students complete a certain number of credits.

Software and Hardware Upgrades

Most online colleges that offer laptops and tablets prohibit students from performing software and hardware upgrades on those devices. Instead, students must take their devices to the school's technology center. Additionally, some schools forbid students from downloading music, movies, and games onto borrowed devices.

Damages and Theft

Students may purchase damage and theft protection for their issued devices. However, some schools offer these protections at no charge. If insurance is unavailable, the school may charge the student for replacing the laptop if it is stolen or damaged beyond repair.

Student Status

Some schools issue laptops or other devices to all incoming students, including transfer students, while other institutions may be more selective. For example, some schools may issue devices to students only if they are enrolled full time and have fewer than 45 transfer credits.

Accredited Online Schools With Tech Perk Programs

Many universities and colleges offer laptops and other tech perks to students in online learning programs. Below, we feature higher education institutions that give learners free laptops with different contingencies. We also list dozens of schools that provide other technology incentives to students.

Free Laptops

American National University true

Tech Perk: All new students receive a free laptop.
Eligibility: All new students are eligible.

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School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 15 undergraduate, 3 graduate
Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

Founded in 1886 as National Business College in Roanoke, Virginia, ANU focuses on practical, hands-on education. ANU serves students globally, providing career-relevant blended and online degrees to adult learners, with physical campuses in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Academic offerings go up to the master's level and emphasize business, healthcare, and technology, with new programs in development. Distance learners benefit from ANU's focus on student support, including career development, financial aid, and library services.

Bethel University true

Tech Perk: Graduate students who live in Tennessee receive a free laptop to keep once tuition and fees are paid for their first course
Eligibility: Graduate students who live in Tennessee and enrolled in the graduate school or the College of Adult and Professional Studies are eligible.

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School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 17 undergraduate, 38 graduate
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

A private institution founded in 1871 and located in St. Paul, Minnesota, Bethel prepares graduates for service-based careers grounded in the evangelical Christian faith.

The comprehensive university offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and a seminary. Distance learners can pursue degrees in nursing, organizational leadership, business management, and Christian ministries.

The largest school in the 13-member Christian College Consortium, Bethel serves about 4,500 students. The Bethel Royals participate in 18 men's and women's NCAA Division III varsity sports.

Chatham University true

Tech Perk: Students receive a MacBook Air during student orientation
Eligibility: All incoming first-year students are eligible.

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School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 3 undergraduate, 12 graduate
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

A private university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and founded in 1869, Chatham serves about 2,200 students. Nearly 94% of 2020 undergrads found a job or enrolled in continuing education within six months of graduating.

Chatham's offerings focus on business and communications, sustainability and health, and the arts and sciences. Many of Chatham's 15 online undergraduate and graduate programs feature on-campus residencies or visits to foster relationships with classmates and instructors. Distance learners can earn degrees in business administration, psychology, professional writing, and healthcare informatics.

Full Sail University true

Tech Perk: Project LaunchBox™ gives Full Sail students a laptop with software and accessories relevant to their degrees
Eligibility: LaunchBox packages vary depending on the student's major.

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School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 19 undergraduate, 8 graduate
Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, serves about 21,000 students. The school originally started in Ohio in 1979 as an audio recording shop. Today, Full Sail offers associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in media, entertainment, art, and technology.

The immersive, hands-on online learning experiences include access to production studios, real-world projects, and real-time collaboration with classmates. Full Sail is known for its custom-designed learning platform and more than a decade of online education experience.

Independence University true

Tech Perk: On-campus students receive a laptop they can keep after graduation, and online students get a laptop and a tablet
Eligibility: Every student receives a laptop regardless of whether they enroll part-time or full-time.

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School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 15 undergraduate, 3 graduate
Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, IU specializes in career-focused business, technology, healthcare, and graphics arts online and in-person programs.

Distance learners choose from 18 online degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels in disciplines like web design and development, nursing, accounting, and respiratory care. Online classes start monthly. The school works with students to transfer in as many credits as possible at no charge. IU instructors boast relevant industry experience to help students prepare for careers after graduation.

Moravian College true

Tech Perk: Students receive a MacBook Pro and iPad.
Eligibility: Incoming undergraduate students are eligible.

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School Type: Public
Number of Online Programs: 2 graduate
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

A private college founded in 1742 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Moravian focuses on career development, leadership, and global experiences. Although the school's relationship with the Moravian Church dates to its founding, Moravain is not a religious institution. 99% of Moravian students receive some type of financial aid.

The college's most popular undergraduate programs include nursing, economics and business, biological sciences, and music. Graduate students can earn an accredited online MBA in two years. Moravian offered 234 online courses as of 2019.

Rochester University true

Tech Perk: All incoming undergraduates receive a free Apple MacBook or an iPad.
Eligibility: Students must be new to Rochester University, must be admitted by May 31 for the following fall semester, or November 30 for the following spring semester. Must not transfer more than 29 credits. Students who participate in the early college program can enter with 89 credits and still be eligible. Dual enrolled high school students can enter with a maximum of 44 credits and be eligible as well.

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School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 7 undergraduate
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Established in 1954 by the Church of Christ, RU remains a Christian institution. Located in Rochester Hills, Michigan, the university boasts a 12-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio and serves about 1,200 learners.

RU offers more than 200 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in traditional and accelerated formats across seven schools. Accelerated majors include Christian ministry, early childhood studies, mass communication, and psychology. RU's accelerated programs offer 100% online or hybrid learning options with classes as short as eight weeks.

Strayer University true

Tech Perk: Students get a free laptop with Microsoft software that they can keep after their first three terms.
Eligibility: Bachelor's students can get their free laptops.

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School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 10 undergraduate, 11 graduate
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

More than 50,000 students attend Washington, D.C.-based Strayer. The university offers 31 degrees, 75 concentrations, and over 400 classes. Students can study business, information technology, public administration, and criminal justice at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels.

Strayer's distance learning resources include tutoring, financial aid guidance, a career center, and student service coaches. Coursework includes discussion boards, assigned readings, and videos made by Emmy award-winning producers.

University of Minnesota Crookston true

Tech Perk: All students get a laptop.
Eligibility: Every enrolled student gets a laptop.

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School Type: Public
Number of Online Programs: 16 undergraduate
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

One of five campuses in the University of Minnesota system, UMN Crookston serves more than 1,800 students (about 50% online and 50% on campus). The school boasts over 20 years of experience teaching online programs. UMN Crookston emphasizes experiential learning, research, technology, and global perspectives.

Learners choose from over 30 distance education and on-campus undergraduate programs in fields like criminal justice, software engineering, sport and recreation management, and elementary education. Prospective students can try a free online class before enrolling.

Valley City State University true

Tech Perk: Students receive either a MacBook Pro or a Microsoft Windows laptop.
Eligibility: All full-time students receive a free laptop. Part-time students receive discounts.

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School Type: Public
Number of Online Programs: 15 undergraduate, 7 graduate
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Established in 1890 as a teacher's college, VCSU is one of 11 schools in the North Dakota University System. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, the central campus in Valley City, North Dakota, houses historic and modern buildings.

VSCU's small classes feature a student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1. Students can pursue more than 65 undergraduate programs, including 15 online bachelor's degrees. The university also offers seven master's in education programs with concentrations in technology education, teaching English language learners, and elementary education.

Wake Forest University true

Tech Perk: The WakeWare program provides laptops to students at discounted rates. Students receiving any type of institutional aid (need-based, merit, or athletic scholarships) can also get the technology grant, making the laptop free.
Eligibility: All undergraduate students are eligible for the discount program. All undergraduate students receiving institutional aid can apply for the grant program to receive their free laptops.

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School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 7 graduate
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

A private, liberal arts university founded in 1834 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest competes in 18 Division I sports. The school's student body includes more than 8,000 learners from over 50 foreign countries.

Wake Forest's 45 majors and 60 minors span disciplines like computer science, business, cultural heritage and preservation studies, and anthropology. Online offerings include six master's degrees in business administration and counseling, along with a doctor of nursing practice. Students can participate in more than 250 university clubs and organizations.

Other Discounts and Incentives

Alabama State University

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tech Perk: Through the Apple Loan Program, ASU lends out MacBook Pro laptops to students.
Eligibility: All ASU students are eligible.

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Amridge University

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tech Perk: Amridge students can purchase their laptops through the university at a discounted price.
Eligibility: All enrolled students are eligible for discounts.

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Auburn University

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tech Perk: Students get laptop discounts with Apple, Dell, HP, and IBM.
Eligibility: All enrolled students are eligible for discounts.

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Azusa Pacific University

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Tech Perk: The IMT Computer Store offers discounts for students for Mac and PC laptops.
Eligibility: All students are eligible for the discounts.

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California State University Bakersfield

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Tech Perk: Students without access to a laptop have several options. If students receive financial aid, they can apply for a loan increase to give them a special allowance to purchase a computer. Alternatively, they can loan one of the university's laptops on an annual basis.
Eligibility: Students receiving financial aid can get the budget increase. Students without access to a laptop can rent a loaner laptop.

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California State University East Bay

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Tech Perk: Students can loan computers from the university and renew them when their loan is up.
Eligibility: All students are eligible on a first-come, first-served basis.

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California State University Fullerton

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Tech Perk: Students can check out a long-term laptop directly through the university.
Eligibility: All enrolled students are eligible.

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California State University Sacramento

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Tech Perk: The Hornet Laptop Discount Program uses CARES/HEERF Emergency Grants to provide laptops to students at deeply discounted rates.
Eligibility: Currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students are eligible.

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Central Michigan University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tech Perk: CMU students enjoy discounts with Apple and Lenovo.
Eligibility: Students must be currently enrolled at CMU to qualify for discounts.

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Davenport University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tech Perk: Students can receive various discounts through vendors, including Lenovo, Microsoft, Logitech, Best Buy, and Apple.
Eligibility: All enrolled students can get discounts through the approved vendors.

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Drexel University

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Tech Perk: Students can get laptop discounts at several different vendors.
Eligibility: All Drexel students can receive discounts.

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Eastern Kentucky University

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tech Perk: EKU's Barnes & Noble bookstore provides students with discounts for laptops.
Eligibility: All EKU students are eligible.

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Harvard University

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
Tech Perk: Harvard students can receive big discounts through Harvard's Apple and Dell online stores.
Eligibility: Eligible students must be currently enrolled in a Harvard program.

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Northwest Missouri State University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tech Perk: All students get a laptop they can keep until graduation.
Eligibility: All undergraduate and graduate students living on or off campus, regardless of full-time or part-time status, are eligible.

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Oklahoma State University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tech Perk: Students can receive deep technology discounts at OrangeTech.
Eligibility: Incoming OSU students are eligible for discounts.

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Park University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tech Perk: Students can get discounts on hardware at CDW, Dell, and ThinkEDU.
Eligibility: All students and alumni are eligible for discounts.

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Purdue University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tech Perk: The ITaP Shopping Program allows students, faculty, and alumni to get discounts for Apple and Dell laptops.
Eligibility: All Purdue students can receive the discounts.

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San Diego State University

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Tech Perk: Students can check laptops out from the library.
Eligibility: All students can borrow the laptops following a first-come, first-served format.

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Seattle Pacific University

Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Tech Perk: SPU's Computer and Information Services facility offers discounted refurbished laptops to students
Eligibility: Students currently enrolled can purchase the discounted laptops

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Seattle University

Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Tech Perk: Students get discounts to purchase products from Dell.
Eligibility: All enrolled students are eligible for the discounts.

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Southern Nazarene University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tech Perk: Students can receive laptop discounts through Dell.
Eligibility: Undergraduate students can take advantage of the discount.

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Stony Brook University

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Tech Perk: Students can get equipment discounts with Dell.
Eligibility: All enrolled students are eligible for discounts.

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The Ohio State University

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tech Perk: Students can get laptop discounts at the university's technology store.
Eligibility: All enrolled students can receive the discounts.

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The University of Texas at Austin

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tech Perk: The campus bookstore offers discounts to purchase hardware, software, and accessories.
Eligibility: All students are eligible for the discounts.

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The University of Texas at Dallas

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tech Perk: Students get discounts from Apple, Dell, and Lenovo.
Eligibility: All enrolled students can take advantage of discounts.

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The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tech Perk: Students can receive discounts on Apple products at Vaquero Tech Centers.
Eligibility: All students enrolled in a degree or certificate program at UTRGV are eligible.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tech Perk: The university has a partnership with Dell to provide students with discounts. The campus technology store also provides discounts on Dell, Lenovo, and Apple products.
Eligibility: All enrolled students are eligible for the discounts.

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The University of Texas at Tyler

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tech Perk: Students can receive discounts on Dell laptops.
Eligibility: All enrolled students can get the Dell discounts.

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University of Arizona

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tech Perk: Students can get laptop discounts at campus stores.
Eligibility: All students are eligible for discounts.

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University of California Berkeley

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Tech Perk: Students can take advantage of technology discounts with Apple, Microsoft, HP, Best Buy, and Lenovo.
Eligibility: All students enrolled at the university can receive the discounts.

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University of California Davis

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Tech Perk: Students receive Apple discounts at TechHUB and the UC Davis Bookstore.
Eligibility: All UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education students are eligible.

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University of California Irvine

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Tech Perk: Students receiving financial aid can request a one-time $2,000 budget increase to purchase a computer. The university also offers discounts for students with several vendors.
Eligibility: Students receiving financial aid can get the $2,000 allowance for a new computer. All students can receive the discounts.

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University of California Santa Barbara

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Tech Perk: Students can get a loaner laptop by checking it out from the university's library. Students receiving financial aid can get a budget increase to buy a laptop. All students can take advantage of technology discounts at certain vendors.
Eligibility: All students can check a laptop out from the library following a first-come, first-served format. All students can receive the discounts. Students receiving financial aid qualify for the budget increase.

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University of Central Florida

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tech Perk: The university's computer store offers students Apple and Dell discounts,
Eligibility: All students can get the discounts.

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University of Michigan

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tech Perk: Students can get discounts on hardware at the university's tech shop.
Eligibility: All students, including alumni are eligible for discounts.

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University of Nevada Las Vegas

Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Tech Perk: UNLV has agreements with Dell, Apple, Lenovo, Microsoft, and HP to provide students with discounts.
Eligibility: All UNLV students can take advantage of the discounts.

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Villanova University

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Tech Perk: Students can receive laptop discounts through Dell and Apple.
Eligibility: All enrolled students are eligible for discounts.

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Washington State University

Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Tech Perk: CORETECH provides students with technology discounts.
Eligibility: All currently enrolled students can take advantage of the discounts.

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Western Washington University

Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Tech Perk: Students can receive technology discounts with Apple, Dell, Lenovo, HP, and Microsoft.
Eligibility: All currently enrolled students are eligible for discounts.

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Discover more financial help:

Technology Used in Online Learning

Colleges and universities deliver online courses using cloud-based platforms known as learning management systems (LMS). An LMS may be proprietary or open source.

Proprietary LMS platforms, such as Docebo and Blackboard Learn, feature source code that is copyrighted. As a result, schools using proprietary LMS systems must pay licensing and subscription fees. Alternatively, open-source LMS platforms, such as Moodle, use source code that is freely available and modifiable.

Comprehensive by design, LMS platforms are typically used for the following purposes:

  • Creating customized course lessons formatted to feature text, images, graphs, and tables
  • Streaming live or recorded videos and audio files, including course lectures
  • Enrolling new students or developing self-enrollment programs
  • Tracking student attendance
  • Designing customized exams in different formats, such as multiple-choice or essay
  • Facilitating conversations, including feedback between faculty and students through email and discussion boards

Students can access LMS platforms anytime. Course materials offered through an LMS can also be reused. Students must use computers, tablets, and other devices that are compatible with the specific hardware and software requirements of their school's LMS.

Computers

If using a personal computer rather than a device provided by your college, here are a few tips to ensure your technology is up to date and ready for online learning. Any computer made within the past 3-4 years should be adequate for online coursework.

Additionally, computers used for online learning typically need the following hardware and software components:

  • A processor with a speed of at least 2 gigahertz
  • A hard drive of 128 gigabytes (GB) or larger, including at least 4 GB of RAM
  • The latest version of the device's operating system, such as Windows or macOS
  • The latest version of a word processor program, such as Microsoft Word
  • A fully functioning sound card and webcam
  • A monitor and video card with a resolution of at least 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
  • Updated software applications, such as Adobe Acrobat
  • Updated virus protection software

Online students generally need access to a laptop or desktop computer with the components listed above. While most phones or tablets can access proprietary and open-source LMS platforms, these mobile devices may have limited LMS access and functionality.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I choose which free laptop I get?

Technology policies for laptop programs vary. However, when colleges offer laptops at no cost, students typically do not get to choose which type they receive. Contact your college directly to find out the details of any potential tech perks.

Can I keep the free laptop?

The free laptop programs we outlined above allow distance learners to keep their laptops. However, not every college that offers free laptops necessarily lets students keep them, so check with your school to make sure.

What are examples of educational technology?

Educational technology refers to hardware and software components that facilitate learning, including LMS, digital readers and tablets, and computers. 3D printing, virtual reality, and mobile devices also support distance learning.

Why is technology important for students?

Technology is important because it can support and enhance learning. Learners who graduate with good tech skills are more competitive in the job market, as employers in many fields increasingly value technical aptitude.

What is the best technology for distance learners?

A laptop or desktop computer from the last 3-4 years is the most important educational technology for distance learners. A newer computer helps students effectively use their school's LMS platform.

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

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