2013 Computer System Requirements for the Master Gardener Online Course
The Master Gardener online training course uses an online teaching program called Illinois Compass. Trainees can access the Illinois Compass platform through a web browser. Some of the files in the course are very large. If you have slow dial-up Internet access, you may find viewing the files time consuming, frustrating, and costly if done all online. YOU MUST HAVE a MINIMUM of 256 bandwidth, and DSL or better Internet connection in order to view many of the lessons on this course.
The Illinois Compass software you will use resides on a server (a central host computer) on the University of Illinois campus. You will want to be sure that your computer's settings are optimized for running an online course. Illinois Compass uses Java technology extensively. In order for Compass to work properly, you need to have the appropriate Java plug-in installed on your computer. To get the most recent version of the Java plug in for your windows computer, go to www.java.com, click on the Free Java Download button and follow the directions. Macintosh users receive Java updates automatically via their software update control panel.
You will also need Acrobat Reader (which can be downloaded free from the Internet) to view the CD-ROM version of the Master Gardener Manual. The Master Gardener On-line course has a messaging system within the course, so e-mail access is not absolutely necessary, but for direct communication with the instructor it is recommended that course participants also have an e-mail account.
Not all web browsers perform properly with Illinois Compass. Please refer to the table below for the browsers that have been tested and are supported by Illinois Compass.
Internet Explorer 5.5 (SP2), 6.0
Safari 1.2,1.3 and higher, 2.01 and higher
Microsoft has released a new version of its Internet explorer web browser (v.7) for Windows which is distributed through the Auto Update System. CITES has tested IE 7 with Compass and has not found any problems. As long as the browser is configured properly, the features of Compass should work.
Netscape 4.8, Opera, and other browsers will generally display Compass content, but may not work properly for all features, such as quizzing. Users of these browsers should install the current version of IE to use as a backup.