Identify Required Hardware and Software Information in Your Syllabus

Quality Review Showcase

The Quality and High Quality online course reviews explore components proven to be best practices in online course design. This post showcases Quality item 2p, “Required hardware and/or software and how students can access them is stated in the syllabus.”

Students taking online courses are going to be using technologies to participate. Access to a computer is most obvious, but there are other kinds of technologies that may be required. Identifying these technologies to students in the syllabus better prepares them to be successful in the course.

Examples of Hardware

  • Webcam
  • Headset
  • Printer
  • Mobile device

Examples of Software

  • Zoom
  • SPSS
  • Photoshop

What are Some Ways your Online Course can be Designed to Meet this Standard?

  • The Syllabus and Interactive Syllabus templates within the Templater tool have a heading (“Required Materials/Resources”) in which you can share this information.
  • Consider linking to What are the browser and computer requirements for Instructure products? Webcourses@UCF is powered by Instructure. This page describes the basic hardware and software requirements necessary to navigate through Webcourses@UCF.
  • If you are requiring students to use mobile devices, such as a smartphone, be explicit with what device and/or application will be needed.
  • Look through UCF Apps and see if the required software is available. Examples include SPSS, SAS, RStudio, ArcGIS Pro, MATLAB, and more. Students can freely access these tools.
  • If you are using an online proctoring tool like Respondus Monitor, be very clear what technologies students will need (for instance,  a web camera [internal or external] and microphone, a broadband internet connection, etc.).
  • Peruse the UCF Library’s technology lending page. Students can rent equipment such as tablets, cameras, laptops, digital voice recorders, and more.

What Does This Look Like in a Real Online Course?

Example 1: Rick Brunson, JOU4340 (Online Journalism).

This course asks students to write and design news for the Web. The teacher includes the following in the syllabus, along with a picture of the equipment:

Each student is required to own a web-enabled smartphone or tablet capable of handling the free and low-cost apps we will use to produce news content. A liberal data plan is also required so students can transmit content from the field. The student also needs to be familiar with the functionality of her or his phone. Students are also responsible for maintaining sufficient storage and battery power in their smartphones in order to complete projects and meet deadlines. Mobile accessories are also available for students in the NSC Checkout facility to improve the quality of their audio and video. These accessories, shown below, include electronic gimbals and micropods that steady video shots and external microphones (both lavalier and shotgun mics) that improve sound quality. Students are expected to take advantage of these accessories to make their video production as professional as possible. If you don’t, your videos will be of poor quality and your grade on your story assignments will be poor as well. So, make the time and effort to check out and use the equipment for your video stories.

Example 2: Debbie Hahs-Vaughn, EDF7403 (Quantitative Foundations of Educational Research).

Several software programs are required in this course. One is SPSS, which is available via UCF Apps. This is an excerpt of the syllabus, which identifies not only the programs needed, but also computer labs on campus that provide access.

Internet Access

In addition to other resources noted, students should have regular access to the Internet.


There are multiple software programs that will be used throughout the semester, SPSS, R and G*Power. Information on each is provided below. Students have the option to select the statistical software they wish to use.  Screenshots for using SPSS and syntax for writing R script are available for all procedures covered in the class. Students who wish to use a software other than SPSS or R are welcome to do so as long as they are able to complete all aspects that are required. However, no assistance from the professor will be provided for software other than SPSS or R.

SPSS. You can access SPSS at no charge through UCF Apps. Instructions for downloading and additional software accessible can be accessed by clicking here. There are also multiple labs on campus that have SPSS installed.  In particular, please note that the Kysilka lounge is open to graduate students in the college 24 hours a day, by key code access, on days in which the Education Complex is open. Accessibility information on SPSS can be found by clicking here.

If you plan to use SPSS and want a copy for your personal device, the least expensive way to get it is to rent a 6 month license.  I would recommend the ‘standard gradpack’.  It’s about $50 for a 6-month license.  Here is one place from where it can be rented (but there are others):

G*Power. This is a freely downloadable program. The computers in the CASTLE lab (see information on Student Computer Labs) have G*Power available, however you may wish to download it to your own device. Instructions and the link to download are available here.

Student Computer Labs

The Computing and Statistical Technology Laboratory in Education (CASTLE) provides research and statistical support to graduate students seeking assistance with coursework, dissertations, and collaborative research projects. The lab is coordinated by Dr. M.H. Clark, who specializes in research design, statistics and measurement. The lab computers are equipped with various quantitative and qualitative software packages including SPSS, SAS, AMOS, LISREL, Multilog, Mplus and NVivo. CASTLE is located in the Teaching Academy, Room 305 and current hours of operation can be found at CASTLE labLinks to an external site.. If you have any questions about the services, you may contact Dr. Clark at  Should you use the CASTLE lab, I encourage you to try to make an appointment to work with Dr. Clark as she also teaches EDF 7403 and is most familiar with the course.

There are additional UCF computer labs that have SPSS software and are available for student use. Please visit UCF computer labs to confirm where those labs are located and their hours of operation. Some labs are open later during the week and some are open during the weekend.

The Kysilka Lounge (ED 120) is a great option. For grad students looking for a computer lab with SPSS and other access, please check out the Kysilka Lounge, located in the Education Complex room 120. This lounge was dedicated to Professor Emeritus Marcella Kysilka who retired from UCF in 2011 after dedicating 33 years to teaching and learning. The lounge is open to graduate students in the college, by key code access, whenever the Education Complex is open. It boasts multiple computer work stations with software (SPSS and more), an array of tables for collaboration or studying and sofas and chairs for when you just need a break. To gain access the area, students should visit the College’s Office of Student Affairs in ED 115 during regular business hours (generally 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday) to receive an entry code. Students will need to have a valid UCF ID to be given the access code.

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