Northern Michigan University is a tech-savvy institution. In fact, NMU is one of the largest notebook computer campuses in the world with nearly 10,000 Lenovo ThinkPad and Apple MacBooks on campus. The university has been recognized nationally and internationally for its technology initiatives, including during a 2011 visit by President Barack Obama.
Most of you already have your own computer or access to a computer, but if you don’t and you want to pursue online learning, you can participate in Northern’s Teaching, Learning and Communication program and receive a notebook computer for a per-semester fee. To learn more, go to the TLC opt-in Web page.
Students using technology for learning purposes is a way of life at Northern. Still, it is hard to predict some of the uncontrollable technology factors for off-campus students when computer types, network connections, connection speed, Internet browsers, and hardware and software all differ. NMU's support for information technology includes a Computing HelpDesk and MicroRepair service area. NMU's IT support team members want to help you make the technology you have work for a successful online learning experience. If you have technical difficulties, they want you to ask for help.
By necessity, the university makes some basic assumptions about online students. The first is that your computer has capabilities that are close to what the current on-campus ThinkPad and MacBooks have, both from a hardware and software perspective. Northern is assuming you have enough experience with technology that an online course makes sense for you. We strongly encourage you to take the NMU online aptitude quiz to self-evaluate if online learning is for you.
You should evaluate your connection and Internet browser options to determine if they are compatible with the online learning experience. You can connect to your online courses through any high speed Internet service (e.g. DSL, cable). If you are located within NMU's WiMAX coverage area, you will be able to access the Internet using an NMU laptop or with a WiMAX receiver that you can purchase through MicroRepair. If you only have dial-up Internet access available, you may still be able to take an online course. However, many online courses use elements that require higher bandwidth, so if you have dial-up you should talk to the course's instructor prior to registering.