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Academic Technology Launchpad: What tech do I need?

Student Technology Help Desk

Minimum and Recommended Technical Standards for Students

The minimums in this document are meant as a baseline for all students. Some degree programs may have requirements that exceed what is identified below. Such information may be communicated to students through program orientations or other communication methods. You can also contact your program office to ask about specific requirements.

Note: If you are a student with a disability, who uses assistive technology, please contact Disability Resource Services (DRS), with any questions regarding recommendations or requirements at 608.246.6716 or

Tech Specs Minimum Recommended
Operating System

Windows 10

MacOS 11

Windows 10 or 11

MacOS 11 or greater

Processor Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5
Memory 8 GB of RAM 16 GB of RAM
Internet Connection Broadband (high-speed) internet with a consistent minimum speed of 3 Mbps Broadband (high-speed) internet with a consistent minimum speed of 5 Mbps
Internet Browser

Google Chrome (Current release)

Mozilla Firefox (Current release)

Google Chrome (Current release)

Mozilla Firefox (Current release)

Additional Software
  • Adobe Reader DC (Current Release, Windows)
  • Adobe Reader English for Mac Intel (Current release, Mac)
  • VLC (Current release, Windows and Mac)
  • Antivirus, such as Windows Defender Antivirus
Additional Hardware
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Microphone
  • Headset to improve call clarity and prevent feedback in large calls for a class (strongly recommended)
  • HDMI cable (for example) that can allow you to use your TV as a second monitor (may be needed for specific classes, such as Architecture classes, check with your instructor)

Note: Most webcams have an integrated microphone. Laptops with built-in webcams are acceptable.

Blackboard Learning Management System

Browser Check

Blackboard Official Browser Support

Operating Systems

Blackboard is designed for computer-based Windows and Macintosh operating systems. It does not support Linux.

Mobile Access to Blackboard

Mobile devices can supplement your learning experiences, but because full Blackboard functionality is not available on mobile devices, you cannot rely solely on them to successfully complete courses. All functionality is not available for a Chromebook for some courses so you cannot rely solely on a Chromebook, either, for completing coursework.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is available for current Madison College students, faculty and staff at no cost through our college agreement with Microsoft. For more information:

VDI Software

Zero client, thin client, VDI, or cloud computers are available in some campus locations. They look like a typical monitor, keyboard and mouse, but there is no tower or mini-PC attached. You can also access your virtual desktop from off-campus. Off-campus use first requires the setup of multi-factor authentication. For more information:

Horizon VMware information

Multi-factor authentication information


A cross-departmental team contributed to identifying minimum and recommended technical standards for students.

Contributors to this work included members of CETL, the Libraries, Technology Services, as well as instructors.