Students do not need the newest computer or fastest internet connection to participate successfully in remote learning at the UW School of Law. However, general comfort with computers and a reasonably fast internet connection, along with meeting the following minimum requirements, will go a long way toward making the experience a good one.

Two quick notes about technology:

  • One or more of a student’s courses may have additional requirements. Refer to the course syllabi for more information.
  • For the best learning experience, use a laptop or desktop computer. Mobile devices, — including Chromebooks, iPads and other tablets — generally provide an inferior experience when using Zoom and other remote learning tools.

Required Hardware

  • A computer in good shape with a fast processor running a manufacturer-supported operating system; most computers less than five years old will work
  • Speakers/headphones/earbuds for listening to course content
  • Webcam/microphone (for courses with a synchronous component)

Required Software

  • A modern internet web browser, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Safari
  • Zoom (for courses with a synchronous component and for schoolwide community meetings)

Recommended Software

Internet Connection

This is perhaps the most important aspect of students’ remote learning experience and one of the most difficult to quantify. Most home broadband internet connections (Comcast/Xfinity, CenturyLink, etc.) will provide plenty of bandwidth for Zoom meetings.  Students can check speeds using a tool, such as Speed Test: 2Mbps download and upload speeds will provide a good Zoom experience, although higher speeds will provide room for error, especially if there are others sharing the connection.

Keep in mind that many factors can affect network speed. This may include how many others in the household are sharing the connection, how much internet traffic neighbors are generating (primarily a concern for cable internet subscribers), and others. The quality of a student’s Wi-Fi/wireless network can also vary in unexpected ways and be subject to interference from microwave ovens and other electronics. It is highly recommended that students use a wired network connection to the internet modem/router whenever possible.

General Tips

  • If the Zoom connection is struggling, try disabling virtual backgrounds or turning off the camera video.
  • Wi-Fi/wireless signal strength can vary unexpectedly throughout a student’s home and is subject to electronic interference from many sources. Whenever possible use a wired connection to the internet modem/router.
  • Internet connection speeds may vary throughout the day depending on usage by other members of the household, the quality of the internet service provider, and sometimes even what neighbors are doing. Students should plan their learning accordingly if possible.
  • Zoom presents an inferior user experience on mobile devices, including Chromebooks, iPads and other tablets. Use of a laptop or desktop computer is recommended.
  • The webcams and microphones built in to some laptops are often of a lower quality. If others in meetings are having trouble seeing or hearing the student, an external USB webcam may improve the experience.

Other Resources

Students who need more information or support should email lawhelp@uw.edu.