Use the weeks before the course officially starts to iron out technical wrinkles. Help learners meet technical requirements. Provide access to a gauntlet of automated tests and directed activities to identify problems. Make all technical support materials available. Provide access to technical support discussion groups and staff.
Let learners know that they are expected to have everything working by the first day of the class.
Do not leave learners on their own to meet the technical requirements of your course. Clearly enunciate the requirements and provide resources to test compliance and to meet the requirements.
This diagram shows one scheme for getting learners started. It consists of three kinds of interlocking components. A technical Requirements page, a collection of tests, and comprehensive setup instructions.
Learners start with the Technical Requirements page (p 494), which lists all the technical requirements for the course. Each requirement or group of related requirements is linked to a Test page (p 497) to let learners confirm whether their system meets the requirement. Each Test page is linked to the part of the Setup Instructions page (p 504) that tells how to obtain and install the resources necessary to meet the requirement. Both the Test page and the Setup Instructions page ...