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Community & Technology Requirements

Required Skills and Equipment

Summary: All learners will need to have broadband Internet connection, and their own computer or laptop with up-to-date software. The Moodle course management platform works through the Internet, and can be easily accessed on either a Windows PC or a Mac. Each learner must have their own email address, and must be able to speak and write English. Basic computer and Internet browsing skills are required of all learners. A webcam and microphone (or headset) for your computer is recommended. See additional details below if you have any doubts about your readiness to learn with us.

You should be able to:

*send/receive email, and send attachments via email
*find resources through search engines
*use a word processor, presentation software, or other applications
*be self-directed in learning new technology skills such as following a handout or a step-by-step video tutorial

Hardware requirements:

*PC or Mac with Fast Processor (laptops are fine, but Chromebooks may have issues connecting on Zoom)
*Monitor, Speakers & Microphone (may be built-in for laptops)
*Headset (useful if you have to study in a room with other people around you)
*Webcam (strongly recommended – most courses meet on Zoom)

Software requirements:

*PC: Windows 8.1 or Above
*Mac: OS 10.14 or Above
*Browser: most recent release of Chrome or Firefox

Internet Connection standards:

Test your Internet speed using speedtest.net. Recommended speeds:

Ping response–less than 100ms
Download speed–minimum 10Mbps
Upload speed–minimum 2Mbps

Additional Considerations:

*Using a shared Internet connection (other household members using the Internet) will impact connectivity
*Wireless connections are less robust; wired connections are recommended unless Internet speed is well above the minimum required
*Your Internet speed may vary throughout the day based on usage of other customers registered with your Internet Service Provider

WI community of learning

The Wilmette Institute’s program is based on interactive teaching, learning, and communication. Learners, faculty, and staff are responsible for maintaining high standards of scholarship and collegiality. Faculty and learners actively contribute to one another’s learning through critical dialogue, integrative learning, and collaborative learning. As learners interact with faculty and other learners they can expect to be challenged and to feel a sense of accomplishment, to be treated with respect, and to become part of the Wilmette Institute community. Diversity—of thought, values, and opinion—is valued at the Wilmette Institute. All members of the Wilmette Institute community are expected to be respectful of diverse perspectives.


Forum Etiquette Guidelines

The purpose of Wilmette Institute courses is to promote knowledge, insights and service in a unified manner. To enhance the learning experience for all participants, we have provided the following guidance for posting in Wilmette Institute forums. By using the forums you are agreeing to follow these guidelines.

Web-based forums have unique limitations
*Lack of body language—a humorous tone may be interpreted *as condescending or insulting.
*“Emoticons” may help, but sometimes they don’t.
*Writing style—email is very abbreviated, whereas in actual speech fewness of words can indicate the speaker is irritated.

It is very important not to read negative feelings into other’s postings. In Wilmette Institute courses the students come from many cultures and may not understand English well. We urge you to be as courteous and polite as possible. If you think you might have hurt someone’s feelings, it may be a good idea to apologize. You can write students and faculty privately if that might help smooth the waters; the course provides a way to do this.

Post useful messages. If everyone sent a post saying “I agree” or “good point” when they read someone’s posting, we would be flooded with superficial messages. But if everyone liked something and no one says anything, the poster may feel his comments were ignored or disliked. There is no easy solution to this problem. We suggest that everyone send their messages to the Forum in a detached manner without expecting any comments back. If you have a short, specific question, email it to your mentor.

Emotional or controversial topics. If we were sitting in a classroom and an emotionally difficult subject came up, the instructor could gauge the class’s reaction by body language. If someone is looking mad but doesn’t seem to want to speak, the teacher can help the person express his or her thoughts. But if someone in an online forum is angry, no one else will know until they say so. This can result in a very unsatisfactory discussion. Swearing, insults, and other nastiness is highly inappropriate and in extreme cases could result in someone being removed from a course.

Curse words and racial slurs—even in reported text—should be strictly avoided. If in doubt about the appropriateness of a post, please consult your faculty mentor before posting. We also urge people who are feeling upset to send a private message to their mentor before posting to everyone. Even a mildly angry posting to the forum can cause some sensitive students to refrain from posting, and since they won’t say anything, no one will even know why they are silent.

Loss of the distinction between private and public speech. In a classroom you can turn and whisper to the person next to you. The equivalent in an online course is private messaging. It is best to reply to personal comments off the forums.

Best practice in posting. Your first discussion posts within each unit should address the discussion topic. Additional postings should provide comments that are thoughtful, relevant, and help to extend the discussion.

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