Web-Conference Course Guidelines

Participate in a web-conference class at Harvard from anywhere in the world. At a scheduled time each week, you connect to a web-conference classroom and interact with faculty and fellow students online in real time.

Learn about the experience of web-conference courses from faculty in this video.

Prepare to Use the Software 

All first time Web Conference students must attend a training session before their first class. Please go to the web conference information page, and select the link on the left (example 'Zoom') to find upcoming training dates and times. 

Software for web conference courses (Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, or Adobe Connect) will be posted in course descriptions a few weeks before classes begin. Students already registered are notified by e-mail. Once you know the software for your course, you follow the links below to learn how to use it. 

Registered students can find the link to web conference classrooms in Online Services and on password-protected course websites a week before the start of classes.

System Requirements

1. Computer minimum specifications:

Windows

  • 2GHz Intel Core™ Duo or faster processor, 8GB RAM
  • Windows 8 or 10
  • Web Browsers (versions): Chrome v50 or later, Firefox v45 or later, Internet Explorer 11.0.9 or later, Edge for Win10

Macintosh

  • 2GHz Intel Core™ Duo or faster processor, 8GB RAM
  • Mac OS 10.10 and 10.11
  • Web Browsers (versions): Chrome v50 or later, Firefox v45 or later, Safari v8 or later

We do not support

  • Beta versions of any software
  • Taking courses or viewing videos on mobile devices
  • Linux

2. Internet Speeds 

Download/upload: minimum 3 Mbps, use a wired connection

Can check at http://www.speedtest.net

3. Headset

Logitech H390 USB headset

or

Sennheiser PC230 USB headset

(Similar quality USB headsets available, which may be adequate)

We highly recommend the use of a headset with microphone. Do not use the microphone that is built into a laptop or webcam.

4. Video Camera (2 options)

Adequate: Most built-in camera and basic webcams will be fine.

Best:  Logitech 930e webcam; a little more expensive but much better video quality.

5. Audio

Your instructor may initially limit your use of video and/or audio until the students are better acquainted with the software. You will always be able to communicate with the instructor and other students using the chat window provided.

Zoom

Zoom will automatically download when a user connects to the correct URL. In most cases, an applet will open upon download. If your web browsers prohibits the auto-launch please double-click on the downloaded file. Please be aware that most Zoom courses are video intensive so a good webcam and headset are important.

Getting started with Zoom has basic feature and setup advice. This website also has a Zoom-specific help chat.

Blackboard Collaborate

Visit the First Time Users Page and download the launcher before attending a training session or your first class. 

The tools on this page will:

  • Check to see that your operating system and version of Java meet the minimum requirements
  • Help you get the correct version of Java if you do not have it
  • Allow you to test your audio setup
  • Give you a brief orientation to the software

You need to download a launcher the first time you use Collaborate.

  • For launcher instructions, refer to the Launcher Quick Reference Guide. Look in the left navigation panel to choose instructions for PC or Macintosh computers.
  • Be sure to download this help document for information about contacting the Harvard Division of Continuing Education (DCE) tech support, Blackboard Collaborate support, and other resources.  

You should go to the configuration room to set up and test your audio, and view the online orientation in step 3 for first time users. The Participant Quick Reference Guide will give you a screen shot and information about the various tools available in the interface.

Adobe Connect

Visit the Connection Test page on the Adobe website.

The tools on this page will:

  • Check to see that your operating system and version of Java meet the minimum requirements
  • Help you get the correct version of Flash if you do not have it
  • Give you a brief orientation to the software

You should then view the Online Participant Orientation for first-time users. The Quick Start for Participants will give you information about the various tools available in the interface.

Getting Help

After completing the steps above, if you still have problems either in configuring your computer or when you try to attend class call:

Online Support (technical questions and computer/software troubleshooting) 

Enrollment Services (registration, access, and general questions)

Online Technology Status Page 

http://status.dce.harvard.edu    

Click "Report a Problem" link from within course video to send a incident report to Online Support. You can expect a response within 10 minutes to 24 hours.