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Required Technology Skills for Coursework

What to know before

you begin online classes.

Skills for Coursework

The skills listed below are the minimum skill set that is expected of incoming students before taking courses online at Unity College. Students deficient in these skills should seek out local training opportunities, such as classes at a library, community college, or computer training center, to gain these skills.

Technology Requirements for all Students

For all distance education students, we strongly recommend a laptop computer with the following minimum specifications:

Windows / PC:

  • Windows 8
  • Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPU (2+ GHz)
  • 4GB RAM or more
  • 128GB or larger hard drive
  • Wireless network ready
  • Four-year, next-business-day warranty that includes accident coverage (for theft insurance, review your homeowners insurance policy coverage.)
  • Suitable carrying case

Apple / Mac:

  • MacBook Air or MacBook Pro
  • Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPU (2+ GHz)
  • 4GB RAM or more
  • 128GB or larger hard drive
  • Wireless network ready
  • Apple Care extended warranty (for theft insurance, review your homeowners insurance policy coverage.)
  • Suitable carrying case

GIScience Technology Requirements

NOTE – Apple products are not compatible with ArcGIS Pro, the software required for students enrolled in the GIS Master’s or certificate. Students enrolled in GIS will need to refer to the ArcGIS website for minimum specifications. GIS students will also need to sign a compliance form acknowledging that they meet the technology requirements in order to successfully run ArcGIS. If you have any questions about requirements, please reach out to the Distance Education Concierge at (207) 509-7155 or

Other Requirements

  • Microsoft Office 2013 or newer – Students who do not have this can use Office 365, which is available on the home screen of the single sign-on portal
  • Speakers, headphones, microphone, and a web camera for video conferencing. Most computers/laptops that have a web camera come equipped with a built-in microphone
  • Consistent high-speed internet access. Public Wi-Fi (restaurants, libraries, etc.) may be slow and result in errors
  • Mobile devices and tablets can be used to view some of the course materials, but it is not recommended. A mouse and keyboard are preferred.

the required and recommended skills.

Required Skills

These basic competencies are assumed on the first day of class. Students must assume responsibility for learning these skills if he/she does not already possess them. If an instructor finds that you do not have the required skills and knowledge, you may be asked to withdraw from the course.

Basic Knowledge of Computers

  • Understand basic computer hardware components and terminology
  • Understand the concepts and basic functions of a common computer operating system
  • Startup, log on, and shut down a computer system properly
  • Use a mouse pointing device and keyboard
  • Use Help and know how to troubleshoot routine problems
  • Identify and use icons (folders, files, applications, and shortcuts/aliases)
  • Minimize, maximize and move windows
  • Identify common types of file extensions (e.g. doc, docx, pdf, html, jpg, gif, xls, ppt, pptx, rtf, txt, exe)
  • Check how much space is left on a drive or other storage device
  • Back up files
  • Download and install software on a hard disk
  • Understand and manage the file structure of a computer
  • Check for and install operating system updates

Proficiency in Using Productivity Software

  • Create documents of various types and save in a desired location
  • Retrieve an existing document from the saved location
  • Select, copy, and paste text in a document or desired location
  • Print a document
  • Name, rename, copy and delete files
  • Understand and know how to use the following types of software programs:
    • Word processing (example: MS Word, Google Doc, Writer)
    • Presentation (example: PowerPoint, Impress)
    • Spreadsheet (example: Excel, Calc)
    • PDF reader (example: Acrobat Reader, Preview)
    • Compression software (example: WinZip, StuffIt, 7-Zip)

Electronic Communication Skills

  • Email, using a common email program (example: MS Outlook, Gmail, Apple Mail)
  • Compose, Send, Reply, Forward messages
  • Add attachments to a message
  • Retrieve attachments from an email message
  • Copy, paste and print message content
  • Organize email folders
  • Understand what an electronic discussion list is and how to sign up and leave one (example: Listserv, Listproc)

Internet Skills

  • Set up an Internet connection and connect to the Internet
  • Have a working knowledge of the World Wide Web and its functions, including basic site navigation, searching, and installing and upgrading a Web browser
  • Use a browser effectively, including bookmarks, history, toolbar, forward and back buttons
  • Use search engines and directories to find information on the Web
  • Download files and images from a Web page
  • Understand and effectively navigate the hyperlink structure of the Web
  • Understand how to keep your information safe while using the Internet

Moving Files

  • Transfer files by uploading or downloading
  • View and change folder/document security settings
  • Copy files from hard disk to storage devices and vice versa

If you have specific questions concerning these competencies, please contact your concierge at or call 207-509-7155.