With an increasing number of schools transitioning to an online learning model in light of COVID-19, more students than ever are facing the learning curve of going digital. Whether you’re a student taking introductory classes at a community college or a third-year nurse practitioner student trying to get your hands-on experience through a screen, unforeseen issues are bound to arise with our sudden shift to virtual learning. Knowing how to troubleshoot can help keep us from throwing our hands up in frustration.
From little issues with easy fixes to larger ones with more complex remedies, there are tips and tricks for nearly every problem and when there aren’t, there are professionals to lean on. Whether you’re just starting out online or a seasoned e-learner, this guide can help solve everything from lack of sound to connectivity errors during an exam and beyond.
Common Online Learning Tech Issues
Encountering technical issues during online learning is inevitable, but don’t give up at the first sign of trouble. It’s important to recognize that these problems are simply part of the online learning process. Here are some of the basic issues that may be causing problems and what you can do to fix them.
|I’m attempting to enter my scheduled virtual clinical rotation, but when I click the enter button, nothing happens.||Make sure your popup blocker is disabled. If it’s already disabled, try turning it off and back on.|
|The semester just started and I’m trying to access my biology class, but it seems like the interface keeps glitching.||Most learning management system platforms interact best with a specific browser (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, etc.). Find out if you’re using a compatible option.|
|My Wi-Fi keeps cutting out in the middle of my human anatomy class and I’m missing important parts of live lessons.||Rather than relying on a Wi-Fi connection, get an ethernet cable and plug it directly into your computer. This will allow for a stronger, more robust connection.|
|The livestream of my virtual healthcare management class keeps stalling.||If you’re streaming, downloading, or using any other tabs on your computer during a live class, shut them all. These activities can eat up bandwidth and slow your connection.|
|My professor uploaded a mandatory video to my healthcare informatics class, but it just looks like an empty box.||Check your Adobe Flash Player settings and see if you need to download a newer version or change your settings.|
|The ChemDraw program used in my chemistry class keeps freezing in the middle of my project work.||Ensure you’ve downloaded the latest version and check the compatibility requirements for the software to make sure your computer meets them.|
|The learning management platform crashes repeatedly each time I use it.||Check to see if you have any third-party extensions installed on your browser (e.g., Grammarly, Adblock, etc.). Try disabling these during class as they could interfere with the platform.|
|Watching lectures seems impossible because they buffer nonstop. It doesn’t matter whether they are live or recorded.||Test your internet speed to see if it’s running too slow to support videos. Speedtest provides a free option.|
|I can’t get the learning management system to open properly on my computer.||Most learning management systems require updated operating systems to function properly. Macs usually need to run OS 10.6 or later while Windows need at least Windows 8 or 10.|
|I tried to give a presentation in my medical imaging class recently, but no one could hear me.||Check the sound settings on your computer to ensure the internal microphone works. If not, you may need to purchase an external microphone to use during presentations.|
When to Call for Help
Despite your best efforts, sometimes the problem lies beyond your technical skills. Many colleges anticipate the need for trained and qualified tech staff and provide 24/7 support to students or staff facing issues. Sometimes it may not be a problem on your end and reaching out for help will be the only way to resolve the issue.
Remember that many students face tech problems – especially at the start of school – and know that you will get them sorted over time. Just as you spend time learning about your chosen subject area, virtual education gives you the opportunity to improve your tech skills.
Encountering an issue that has the potential to impact your grade can rachet up your stress from zero to one hundred in no time. Whether you encounter problems related to testing, homework, classwork, or required meetings, here are some things you can do to resolve those issues and get back on track.
Troubleshooting by Program
Aside from the general tech issues discussed throughout this guide, you might come across a few issues specific to individual learning management systems. Whether you use Blackboard, Canvas, or one of the other popular platforms, you can find answers to common problems below.
- 5 Common Problems Faced by Students in eLearning and How to Overcome ThemThis piece by eLearning Industry highlights some of the most common issues new distance learners face and offers tips on how to resolve them.
- Canvas Tips for StudentsThe University of Washington offers helpful ideas and tricks for getting the hang of the Canvas platform.
- Getting Started on Schoology for StudentsDesigned especially for learners, this guide by Schoology looks at common issues and tools for addressing them.
- Google Classroom Tips for Student and ParentsThe Plano Independent School District offers five helpful tips for both students and parents.
- Moodle Guide for StudentsWagner College put together this informative YouTube video to help students navigate Moodle.
- Pitfalls of Online TestingStudents and instructors looking to avoid issues related to giving/taking exams online may find this resource of use.
- Teachers’ Most Common Tech Issues – and How to Fix ThemEdutopia takes a look at issues frequently faced by instructors leading online classes and how to fix them.
- Top 10 Blackboard Tips for StudentsDartmouth University put together this list of the best tips for navigating Blackboard like a pro.
- Troubleshooting Common Issues with Online CoursesUse this resource to learn about helpful tips for fixing frequently cited issues, as provided by California State University at Fullerton.
- Valuable Guidelines to Managing Technical DifficultiesTouro University offers this valuable set of guidelines for assessing technical issues and finding solutions.