Tech Requirements

Technology Requirements for Synchronous Digital Classrooms

Many, but not all, aspects of learning and interaction can be accomplished online using video conferencing, discussion forums, and screen sharing. This document overviews common technology requirements for synchronous video and computing interactions. Additional technology may be required for labs, music, athletics, and other instructional formats.

Hardware requirements for learning that includes synchronous video conferencing

  1. A laptop or desktop for personal use. A tablet may suffice for some classes, but not all.
    • This machine must be able to handle video conferences and run other required software/web resources. A Linux machine may not be able to interface with the required software.
    • (Optional alternative):  Smartphones can be used instead of personal computers for participation based on discussion and handwritten documents. A description of one possible setup is in development.
  2. Reliable internet that can stream videos.
  3. A webcamera. Many social cues that allow us to engage with each other and students in a group context are visual.
  4. (Optional) Headphones can prevent audio feedback loops on conference calls.
  5. (Optional) A phone as a back up for difficult audio connections. These are primarily useful for when internet connectivity is spotty and/or for a primarily discussion-based lessons.
  6. (Optional) A secondary device that can run essential programs without taxing the computer used for video conferencing.

ITS Support

Technology will go wonky. Don’t spend more than 10 minutes frustrated over technology going haywire. Everyone who uses advanced technology regularly asks for help, either from colleagues, teachers, the internet, or ITS. Even if you find a solution before someone gets back to you, reaching out for help is a critical part of using technology.


Regular communication, seeking and providing feedback, and adaptability are as important as the technology that supports it, especially in this COVID-19 crisis. We can make a lot of different facets of technology work for us in this crisis, but only if we know what is and is not working for ourselves and others.

This work was produced by Ella Foster-Molina, Swarthmore College, March 2020. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit