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Online Learning

The following information is intended to help you navigate the technical side of online learning at Penn State. For a more complete guide to student technology resources at Penn State, visit the main Connect to Tech page. For more general resource to help you keep learning in Fall 2020, visit Penn State’s Keep Learning website.


Your academic advisor or college degree program can direct you to IT support that can make specific recommendations for cameras and other hardware. If you are bringing an older device, make sure it meets the minimum recommendations:


  • Processor – Intel Core m5 or i5
  • RAM – 8 GB
  • Hard Drive – 256 GB+ SSD
  • Video Card – Integrated
  • Display Resolution – 1920×1080


  • Processor – Intel Core i5
  • RAM – 16 GB
  • Hard Drive – 256 GB+
  • Video RAM – Integrated


  • Capacity – 32 GB+ Flash Storage
  • Resolution – 1200×800

Note: Tablets and Chromebooks are not recommended as primary devices.

Additional Recommendations

  • Camera
  • Microphone

Internet Access


  • 800kbps/1.0Mbps (up/down) for high quality video
  • For gallery view and/or 720p HD video: 1.5Mbps/1.5Mbps (up/down)
  • Receiving 1080p HD video requires 2.5mbps (up/down)
  • Sending 1080p HD video requires 3.0 Mbps (up/down)

Reliable broadband internet is required for online learning. However, if it is not available you can set up a Wi-Fi hotspot, and instructions for how to do so are available for Samsung and Pixel devices and iPhones. If necessary, you can secure additional data from your wireless carrier. The following providers have information available on how to upgrade data: AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Find more providers and information on the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected page.

You may need to conserve bandwidth when attending classes remotely, and are encouraged to follow the best practices provided by Penn State IT. One quick tip: Turn the wireless off on your phone if you are using your computer or tablet to connect to class. You are likely to consume bandwidth without knowing it.
If you have questions regarding technology requirements, please contact the IT Service Desk for 24/7 support.

Student Tech Loans

For students who are unable to secure the appropriate technology to support their coursework, Penn State IT has a limited supply of loaner laptops and mobile hotspots available to students actively enrolled in the current semester.

Once a request is approved, the equipment will be shipped to a student’s location along with a return label. All equipment loaned must be returned or renewed at the end of the current semester. Please note, due to the prohibitive costs, international customs regulations, export controls, security concerns, and the potential that these may impact both the delivery and the return of equipment; we are unable to ship equipment internationally.  

Students can login with their Penn State ID and password to fill out the  Mobile Technology Request Form to begin the eligibility process.  

Please select Student, indicate the type of equipment you wish to loan, either a laptop or a mobile hotspot, and complete all other appropriate fields including your class level, phone number, and shipping address information.

Discounted and Free Software

Download free software or purchase discounted software for your personal computer or device from the software store. Penn State offers many software titles—including the Office 365 suite of applications—at no additional cost to students. Visit to browse available titles that can be downloaded automatically for free.

Web-based Platforms

Access to popular applications are available online through web-based platforms.

Access popular applications found in Penn State computer labs to use on your personal computer or device.

The following applications have limited connections and are available by request only:

  • BM SPSS Statistics
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Microsoft Project
  • Microsoft Visio

Connect to an available Penn State student computer lab to remotely access additional specialized software.

Additional Resources

Virtual Private Network
Access popular applications found in Penn State computer labs to use on your personal computer or device.

For additional security some applications require that you connect to Penn State from your personal device with Penn State’s Virtual Private Network.

Disability Resources
Student Disability Resources can help determine technical accommodations throughout the remote delivery of courses.