Your Success Is Our Mission

Distance Learning Requirements & Competencies

Below are general computer system requirements and recommendations for students planning to take online courses. It would be a good idea for you to also look at the online Course Requirements (also known as Get the 411) before you register for a fully online course!

Determining whether you are ready for Online Learning should be a large step in deciding to take an online class. For the past two years Blue Ridge has been researching the predictors for success for students enrolling in online courses. As a part of our accreditation process, this particular side of Distance Learning has become part of a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that we are deeply committed to. Although flexibility in scheduling is one part of your decision, please consider the statement below which is a brief summary of the QEP findings.

 "Analysis of our data from surveys, interviews, and focus groups along with professional articles suggest factors such as computer skills, reading comprehension, preference for online learning, independent learning style, time management skills, realistic expectations about demands of an online course, a required orientation, minimum GPA, and consideration of the history of withdrawing from courses are predictors for success in an online course." (QEP 2008)

Before you enroll in an online course, you should be comfortable demonstrating the skills listed above and below. To determine this, please take the "Are you ready for Distance Learning?" assessment. There you will be asked questions on topics in the areas of how well you can use a computer; how motivated, organized, and self-directed you are; and how you prefer to learn new information.

Distance Learners should be able to:

  • Communicate well in writing
  • Effectively manage your time

If you take a distance-learning course, you are responsible for the following:

  • Reading the assigned materials and being prepared to discuss them in an online discussion forum or Wiki
  • Completing assigned lab exercises
  • Completion of all reading assignments and exercises required to pass this course.
  • Communicating often with your instructor

Distance Learners should have these computer operation and basic internet skills:

Minimum Required Computer Skills

  • Start up and shut down your computer system and peripherals
  • Identify and use icons, windows and menus 
  • Download and install helper applications such as Real Media players, etc.
  • Point, click, double-click, click and drag, and scroll up/down and left/right with mouse
  • Use pull-down / drop-down menus
  • Select, open, move and close a window
  • Start an application and create a document
  • Name, save, retrieve and revise a document
  • Use printing options
  • Cut and paste between applications
  • Use and correctly size graphics for use on the Internet (including PowerPoint files uploaded to the Internet)
  • Connect to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider
  • Access and use resources on the World Wide Web
  • Use browser software and set appropriate Options for Popups, Cookie access, etc.
  • Navigate to a specific website
  • Navigate to a search engine site and perform a specific search
  • Complete and submit online forms
  • Utilize email effectively
  • Send, open, reply to and forward messages
  • Send, open, and save attachments
  • Use signatures
  • Participate in online discussions and forums
Computer and system requirements

Blue Ridge Community College has a set of minimum computer specifications that students should have when taking an online class including computer hardware, basic computer skills, required software, and web browser, Internet, and e-mail specifications. That information is included below.

  • Be aware that Moodle has not been tested or approved for use with mobile devices such as your smart phone. 
  • Please note: some courses may have additional and/or alternate computer requirements Browsers, Plug-ins, Players and Viewers.

Minimum Computer Specifications

  • Processor:  1 GHz processor or faster or equivalent
  • Memory (RAM):  2GB
  • Hard Drive:  40GB
  • Monitor:  17" 1024x768 or better
  • Operating System – PC:  Windows 7 or higher
  • Operating System – Macintosh:  System 10.2 or higher
  • Suggested Web Browsers:  current Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple Safari
  • Business Applications:  MS Office 2010, 2013, or 2016; Open Office or LibreOffice
  • Suggested Internet Service:  DSL or Cable connection highly recommended. A dial-up connection is NOT sufficient.
  • Personal Email Account: Personal email account REQUIRED to set up student accounts
  • Email:  BRCC Webmail account *REQUIRED* All critical academic and course assignment information will only be sent to your assigned account.
  • Other Suggestions:  In general, any PC or Mac computer that is less than 6 years old and is receiving automatic operating system and web browser updates should be sufficient to participate in BRCC distance learning classes. Windows computers also require functional antivirus software such as the free Microsoft Security Essentials.