NCA's e-learning programme has been designed to accommodate students with varying levels of technical ability, bandwidth and computer equipment. For this reason, to ensure that all students can access the e-learning programme, we have set a minimum specification - although we have worked hard to ensure that the specification does not place a burden on students. The minimum specification we recommend is set out below. We are constantly working on improvements to make our programme available on more browsers. If you use other browsers or operating systems to access e-learning sessions, please note that:
- i) some features used in Moodle or e-learning sessions may not be available, or may not function correctly; and
- (ii) NCA is unable to offer technical support for browser/operating systems other than those outlined below.
NCA does not accept technical problems caused by non-compliance with the minimum specification as a reason for non-attendance at e-learning sessions. During your course, it is your responsibility to upgrade and maintain compliance in order to avoid entire or partial absence from e-learning sessions. Please note that there are also computers at the college which you may use in an emergency to access Moodle and e-learning.
Please do not use a version of Microsoft Windows operating system prior to Windows 7. You will not be able to get a web browser for Windows XP or Vista that is up to date, and these operating systems are no longer supported by Microsoft.
When we first created the e-learning environment, the only browser that fully supported all our audio and video files was Google Chrome (not Chromium). The problem we have experienced with Chrome is a “maximum number of connections” limit that prevents some files downloading before the others have finished. This is particularly problematic for slower broadband connections.
N.B. You will not be able to study successfully using only an iPad or iPhone, tablet or smartphone.
For web browsers:
Please DO NOT USE Chromium – we have found that there are compatibility issues with graphics and video display in Chromium.
Avoid using Chrome - it can cause frustration.
Avoid using the Edge – it has limitations.
To fully access the NCA e-learning programme you must have a compatible web browser:
We currently recommend one of the following browsers:
ON A PC (Windows 7 or 8 or 10):
- Internet Explorer Version 11 (or later)
- Firefox 48 (or Later)
We don’t currently recommend Microsoft’s Edge browser on Windows 10. It will work with most parts of Moodle and e-learning but there are limitations.
ON an Apple Mac (OS 10.8 or later):
- We currently recommend Safari, which is included with the OS operating system and which should automatically stay up-to-date.
ON AN iPAD (iOS8 or later):
- Safari. On an iPad, Safari is an integral part of iOS and should stay automatically up to date. To check, go to Settings/General/Software Update – this triggers your iPad to check for software and update itself.
Note that full access to e-learning sessions on an iPad or iPhone may involve some 'workaround' practice; you can easily watch a whole e-learning session on an iPad or iPhone, but some of the extended activities are likely to require access to a computer. For instance, some e-learning sessions ask you to download and print documents: depending on your equipment set-up it is possible that you will need to either email the downloaded documents from your iPad or iPhone to a computer, or just access the session on a computer where you can download them direct.
For this reason, NCA advises that you have access to a computer in addition to an iPad or iPhone, in order to access e-learning sessions fully.
Note: You may have some difficulty opening PowerPoint presentations, caused by an iPad compatibility problem. Try pressing and holding the link until you get a context menu up then select 'open in new tab'. Depending on your installed apps, the presentation should open. Note: If you are using an iPad or iPhone, you will need to download a Pydio app to access the online document repository that is part of the virtual learning environment 'Moodle' and use it versus Moodle navigation to access documents online.
YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
- Microsoft Word – at least 2007 (Windows) or 2008 (Mac). If you do not already have this, you may like to know that you can buy or subscribe to most software as educational versions at a massive discount. Go to http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msuk/en_GB/home, or http://www.software4students.co.uk/ for more information. You will be able to prove your student status once you have enrolled at College and started your programme.
- Adobe Reader 11 or DC for PDF access. You can download the Adobe Reader at http://get.adobe.com/reader/. It is free of charge. Please note that there is a compatibility issue between Adobe Reader and other PDF readers. For this reason, NCA STRONGLY recommends that you use Adobe Reader for your e-learning PDF viewing and completion. Please make sure you are using Version 11 or later, as all our in house support and documentation is based on this. To check if you have Version 11 or later, select About Reader from the Adobe Reader menu at the top of the screen; please update if you are not using Version 11 or DC already.
- Access to a printer, preferably colour. Some exercises and worksheets will require printing out to complete, and some of them require colour to understand the diagram or illustrations they use.
- A DVD drive, to access some parts of occasional sessions on DVD (typically this will be longer videos, which for bandwidth reasons cannot be embedded in the e-learning session itself). If your computer does not have an integrated DVD drive, you may need to borrow one occasionally.
- Broadband access. You will need a reasonable speed of connection (4 megabits per second (Mbps) or above is ideal). A standard domestic broadband line should deliver this at most times without difficulty. If you would like to check your current connection speed, try this site: http://www.broadbandspeedtest.co.uk.
- You may also need to check your internet contract for data usage details: a standard domestic broadband contract should be easily sufficient, but bear in mind your existing internet usage; your e-learning access may nudge your contract into the next data band up, and you may need to contact your internet service provider to upgrade your contract. If you are already a heavy internet user, please do this before you begin accessing e-learning, as NCA obviously cannot take responsibility for any 'unfair usage' penalties or fees that your internet service provider may levy.
- Anti-virus Software. The College uses antivirus software that may block any emails that appear suspicious. Make sure you have some antivirus coverage for your own peace of mind and to protect your computer. ESET regularly wins awards for best anti-virus protection (http://www.eset.co.uk).
YOU MAY ALSO NEED:
- Access to a computer or tablet that meets Microsoft Skype for Business specifications. Skype for Business (formerly called Lync) is an instant messaging service similar to Skype and is the preferred method of such services used by the College. It allows instant messaging, voice over IP and video conferencing, and unlike Skype, you do not have to join or download much. It is being used now for online tutorials, Q&A sessions for online-only MSc’s, admissions interviews and attendance at some College meetings. Courses that currently use Skype for Business are:
- MSc in Acupuncture
- MSC in Advanced Oriental Medicine
- MSc in Advanced Complementary Therapy
- MSC in Advanced Nutrition
In broad terms, it is supported on Windows 10, 8, Windows 7 and Intel-based MAC OS-x operating systems.
It is not supported for video or audio on Windows operating systems before Windows 7. More information and a list of Skype for Business Web App Supported platforms is available on our e-learning web site at http://elearnwithnca.co.uk/help/lync.
If you are using a tablet, you will need to download the free Windows Skype for Business 2013 app from your app store before joining any Skype for Business meetings.
- A microphone, speakers (or earphones) plus a webcam will also be required for Skype for Business meetings and tutorials.
Further Information for the minimum specification:
You will find some useful information on our e-learning platform at http://www.elearnwithnca.co.uk/help. This will tell you what browser you are running currently so you can compare it with the specification above. You will find some more information about Skype for Business at http://www.elearnwithnca.co.uk/help. This same link also gives you access to our help ticket system, plus descriptions of common issues and how to solve them.
We make every effort to keep our specification up to date without imposing extra burdens on our staff and students. Due to the rapidly evolving browser market, the recommendation for compatible browsers is likely to change.
NCA: supported and non-supported software and hardware, 2016:
For technical questions: Please raise a help ticket at http://www.ncoasupport.co.uk/help/
For general questions: NCA Registrar Alison Edwards