Troubleshooting and Computer Basics

The main remote learning tools (including D2L, PSU Google apps, and Zoom) are accessible from mobile devices as well as full laptop/desktop computers. For a brief overview of many of the tools involved in remote learning, see OIT’s Student Guide to Learning Remotely. Below and in the chapters that follow, we’ll go in depth about understanding your computer, using D2L, and getting started with Zoom.

Computer Basics

While you don’t need to be a computer scientist to take a class online (unless it’s a class on computer science…), it would be good for you have a solid understanding of some basic technical terminology. Browsers and operating systems are two important components of any computer set up.

  • Your computer’s operating system is the software that manages the programs and functions of your computer. Watch Operating Systems Basics (1:12) for a short overview of operating systems.
  • Web browsers are computer programs that allow you to access websites. Watch Browser Basics (1:59) to learn more about why browsers matter.

You may have courses that require you to use specific computer programs, such as Zoom or D2L. Most software has what are called system requirements, hardware and software requirements to run the program. You can use a systems check to find out information about your computer’s configuration and learn if it’s compatible with the software you need to run. You can run this┬ásystems check to get information about your physical device, operating system, current browser, installed plugins, internet speeds, and more!

When Things Go Wrong: Troubleshooting Tips

Here’s the bad news: during the course of your studies, you’re almost guaranteed to have an issue with your computer hardware or software. But let’s face it — that would probably be true if you were taking a course in a traditional classroom, as well. The good news is that most technical problems are relatively easy to solve, and if you’re really struggling with a technical issue, you can always count on PSU’s technical help desk. They’re here to help you and want to resolve your issue quickly so that you can get back to your studies!

  1. If you’re having a problem with a website (including D2L), try a different browser. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are two popular modern browsers.
  2. If you’re having a problem with a website, try clearing your browser’s cache. See the steps required by doing an internet search for “clear cache” + your browser + your operating system. (ex search: “clear cache firefox mac”)
  3. Save your work and try restarting your computer.
  4. Conduct an internet search. The internet is full of troubleshooting issues and solutions, and you just may find the right one for you. As with all internet searches, the more specific you can make your search terms, the better.
  5. Contact the OIT Help Desk.


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Remote Learning Kit by Portland State University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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