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. Click here for more information. 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; how you prefer to learn new information; and you will even be able to measure your on-screen reading speed and comprehension. 

Communicate well in writing

Effectively manage your time
Have the computer operation skills as listed 

  • 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 and click and drag with mouse
  • Use pull-down menus
  • Select, open, move and close a window
  • Scroll up/down and left/right
  • Start an application and create a document
  • Name, save, retrieve and revise a document
  • Name a document
  • Save a document using the save and save as command
  • 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)

Have the basic internet skills as listed 

  • Connect to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider
  • Access and use resources on the World Wide WebUse browser software and set appropriate Options for Popups, Cookie access, etc.
  • Navigate to a specific Web site
  • Navigate to a search engine site and perform a specific search using Boolean techniques
  • Complete and submit online forms
  • Utilize email effectively
  • send, open, reply to and forward messages
  • send, open, and save attachments
  • use signatures
  • Utilize search engines
  • finding websites
  • online research
  • Participate in online discussions and forums

If you do not have the above skills you should consider taking CIS 070 - Fundamentals of Computing
This course covers fundamental functions and operations of the computer.  Topics include identification of components, overview of operating systems, and other basic computer operations.  Upon completion, students should be able to operate computers, access files, print documents and perform basic applications operations.
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

 Computer and system requirements:
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


VERY Minimum



1 GHz+

Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core/ 1.6 GHz+

Memory (RAM)


4 Gb + (as much as you can get!)

Hard Drive


1 TB+



SATA DVD/CD-RW combo; SATA SuperMulti

LightScribe DVD Writer



Cable or DSL - fast access

Operating System (PC)

Windows XP, SP3, Windows 7

Windows XP, SP3, Windows 7 (Vista not well supported)

Operating System (MAC)

MAC OS 10.2 or higher

MAC OS v10.5



17" 800x600 SVGA, true Color

Web Browser

Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Safari

NOTE: AOL browser NOT recommended or supported

Latest versions: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Safari

Latest versions of I.E. may need to be run in compatibility mode to work in Moodle

Business Apps

MS Works 2007

Open Office or LibreOffice

MS Office 2010 or Open Office or LibreOffice

Email Account

BRCC Webmail @ google account is free AND REQUIRED. Click for setup tutorial.

BRCC Webmail @ google account is free AND REQUIRED. Click for setup tutorial.