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Intro to Online Gavilan

Lesson 2

Getting Your Computer Ready


Computer Set Up:

The basic technical requirements are

  • An internet-capable computer. Most computers sold within the last 5 years will work. Many older computers will work as well.
  • Reliable internet access (from home, college, work, library, or another facility).
And strongly recommended:
  • Reliable email software and an active email account. This can be a Yahoo or Hotmail account.
  • Broadband internet access, such as a DSL or cable modem.
  • A printer.
  • Sound card and speakers. More and more classes have audio files.

You may have to download special plug-ins, such as Adobe Acrobat reader (to view pdf files), or a streaming video viewer such as Quicktime or Windows Media Player.

Recommended Web Browsers:

If you don't have one of these browsers, download a compatible browser now. They are free. Be sure to download the proper browser version for your Operating System.

Firefox (recommended)
Mozilla Firefox

  • Versions are available for Windows, Macintosh, and other platforms.

Internet Explorer: 5.0 or higher
Microsoft downloads

  • For Windows
  • For the Mac: Mac OS 8.1 to 9.x or Mac OS X
  • PLEASE NOTE: Our software is not yet compatible with Internet Explorer 7.
    If your new computer included IE7, please download and use Firefox.

Netscape Navigator
Netscape downloads

  • Choose Communicator or Navigator
Important Message to AOL users:

The AOL browser is not compatible with our system, so you must take these steps in order to have everything working in your classroom area:

  1. Log onto the Internet using your AOL account.
  2. Minimize the AOL screen by clicking on the top right button that looks like a hyphen (-).
  3. If you're on a Mac, minimize by clicking on the yellow button on the top left corner.
  4. Open Netscape, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Firefox, or any other browser you have on your computer. See the message above to download another browser if you don't have one.
  5. Now go to the Gavilan Distance Education Page (, find your class, and log into the class.

Remember, DO NOT USE THE AOL BROWSER to log into the classroom. Many of the graphics won't show up, text boxes, radio buttons and check boxes will be missing, and you will be very frustrated.

Set Browser's Cache:

In order for our software to work properly you must set your browser to NOT use cached (temporary) pages. Take a moment to ensure that your browser's cache is configured properly!

The instructions on how to set your browser's cache settings may vary slightly depending on browser versions you use, but the following should get you to the right area. These settings will call the course pages from the server and will NOT call cached (temporary files) stored on your local hard drive.

Browser/PC Setting the Cache for PC Users

Internet Explorer 5.0+ (PC)

  • Click on Tools > Internet Options
  • Click on the General tab
  • Click on the "delete files" button to clear the cache (temporary files).
  • In the "Temporary Internet Files" section click on Settings
  • In the "Check for newer versions of stored pages" section choose Every visit to the page. Click on OK.

Netscape Communicator 4.7 (PC)

  • Choose Edit from the top menu
  • Select Preferences
  • Select Advance then Cache
  • In the "Document in Cache is compared to" section check "Every Time"
  • Click OK.

Netscape 7.1 (PC)

  • Choose Edit from the top menu
  • Select Preferences
  • Select Advance then Cache
  • Select: "Every time I view the page"
Browser/Mac Setting the Cache for MAC Users
Internet Explorer (MAC OS 10)
  • Choose Explorer from the top menu
  • Select Preferences
  • Select Advanced then Cache
  • Select: Always

Netscape 7.0 (MAC OS 10)

  • Choose Netscape from the top menu
  • Select Preferences
  • Select Advanced then Cache
  • Select "Every time I view the page"

Browser Plug-ins:

Some classes may use special web-based content that will require player software or "plug-ins" to be installed along with your browser. These plug-ins are available free for download. Instructions for installation and using the plug-ins are available from the download sites.

Not all classes require these. You can wait until the need arises, or download one now to see if you'll have problems.

Adaptive Software or Equipment for Access to the Internet

If you have a verified disability and require the use of computer assistive technologies to access the computer, you are welcome to use the Disability Resource Center computers located in the High Tech Center (Library 105). The center has screen readers, magnifying software, voice recognition, alternative mice and other adaptive computer equipment. The DRC Instructor and staff have assisted many students through online courses, so they are a very useful resource.

Gaining access to adaptive tools OUTSIDE the campus is the responsibility of each student. The Disability Resource Center staff can assist students with disabilities to access additional resources and information regarding computer assistive technologies.

Note: For accommodations for a disability, please inform your instructor so that he/she can help you work out any special arrangements needed. You may qualify for extra time on quizzes and exams, or other special accommodations.

Back in the classroom, you'll find a link under this lesson labeled "Is your computer ready?" Click on that link and follow the directions there.


Address of this webpage:
Last updated on June 15, 2009
For questions or comments,
please contact Joy Parker at