Now that the university campus buildings are closed and all courses have shifted to remote delivery, you will need access to a computer and internet at home to take advantage of the university's remote learning resources. If you don't have access to a computer, alternative arrangements may be made with your instructor in order to complete your coursework. Please contact your instructor directly for information on alternative arrangements.
If you don't have access to the internet in your home, a phone with data may be used as a personal hotspot. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many carriers are waiving data overages or offering reduced pricing for certain plans. Please check with your carrier for more information.
Recommended technology requirements
Review the minimum computer/laptop and internet connectivity standards for remote/online learning that will work for most USask classes.
Software and applications
Installing software with student licenses
As a USask student, you have access to a variety of software that you can install on your personal computer for free or at a reduced cost.
Unless otherwise noted, ICT can not provide assistance with installing this software on your personal computer.
Software with free student licenses
|Autodesk (multiple programs)||Many computer-aided-design and modelling packages including AutoCAD, Maya, etc.||Info/install||Free or paid versions available|
|ESRI ArcGIS/ArcMAP||Software for spatial data analysis||Info/install||Requires VirtualBox or VMware|
|Microsoft Office365||Microsoft productivity tools - MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint||Info/install|
|QSR NVivo||Data management/analysis tool||Info/install||Must fill in form to request a license.|
|R/RStudio||Statistical computing language||Info/install||Free or paid versions available|
|SAS University Edition||Statistical analysis package||Info/install||Requires VirtualBox or VMware|
|SketchUp||3d Modelling/Design||Info/install||Requires signup on website.|
|IBM SPSS||Statistical analysis package||Info/install||Free licenses available for students until June 15, 2020|
|MathCAD Express||Mathematical worksheet||Info/install||30 day trial for MathCAD full features|
Software with reduced-cost student licenses
This software is available to current students for a reduced cost compared to regular pricing.
|Adobe Creative Cloud Suite||Graphics and video design tools||Info/purchase||$29.03/month|
|Endnote||Bibliographic management tool||Info/purchase||$99.00|
|MiniTab||Statistical analysis package||Info/purchase||$43.55 for 6 months|
* Costs may change - costs are current as of March 19, 2020.
Specialized software for coursework
Virtual Computer Lab (VLab) enables you to access specialized software (if needed for your class) installed on campus computers from your personal laptop, computer or portable device (e.g. iPad) from home.
The application software runs on the USask server and only the keyboard, mouse and video is transmitted over the network (audio is not available).
Currently, the following applications are available via the USask Virtual Computer Lab:
- ArcGIS - geographical information systems (Mapping)
- Mathematica - symbolic and numeric math package
- MATLAB - numerical mathematics package
- NVIVO - qualitative statistical package
- OpenOffice - productivity software (Word Processor, spreadsheet, drawing, database)
- PHREEQC - geochemical modelling package
- R - The R Project for Statistical Computing, including RStudio
- SPSS - statistical package for the social sciences
- Stata - Statistics Package
Scanning handwritten assignments with your phone to create pdf documents
There may be times when you need to submit handwritten coursework. All students have access to OneDrive. Learn how to use the OneDrive mobile app to scan documents with a phone's camera.
Video chat and share your screen with one or more classmates from your PC, Mac or mobile device
Similar to popular online services, such as Skype or Google Hangouts, USask has licensed WebEx to enable you to:
- Present or attend at a course or meetings with individuals, small groups
- Collaborate using shared chat, whiteboard and screen sharing
- Markup and collaborate on shared documents
We realize that many of you use Zoom for web conferencing. Please note that USask does not have institutional licenses for Zoom, and we are unable to support it.
Blackboard is not always mobile-friendly. If you are having trouble accessing your course work, connect directly with your instructor. Try to do most of your coursework online with the tools available through USask. In the event you have handwritten coursework that you need to return to your instructor, use a scanner app to scan and email your documents.
- Help accessing Blackboard
- Access your courses from your mobile device using the Blackboard Mobile Learn App
Discussions and groups
Your professors have been given a variety of options to adapt your final exams or assessments given this rapid move to remote instruction. Where possible, they have been asked to move to assignments and open book exams with a timeframe of at least 24 hours to adapt for possible wireless disruptions.
Completing exams in Blackboard
In rare instances, a timed Blackboard exam may be required, and there are some things you can do to make it more likely the process will be successful.
Before the exam:
- Make sure you have the exam time correct and possible changes to the correct time zone
- When possible, use a wired network connection
- Use a computer - not a mobile device or tablet
- Restart your computer to make sure you are starting fresh
During the exam:
- Only run the programs necessary for your exam, close down other apps and windows
- Don't use the mouse scroll wheel to move up and down in the test because that might change the selected answer on a question
- Record the answers offline in case something goes wrong
- When taking the exam always hit "Save Answer", don't rely on the automatic save feature
- When you hit "Save Answer" verify the button changes to "Saved"
- If you experience any issues while writing the exam record all your answers offline and contact your instructor right away
Library and learning support
University Library Online - Visit this page for ongoing updates about online learning and academic support services during the library closure.
- AskUs - Chat with library staff for help with research and other related library and learning services questions.
- Writing Help Tutoring - Book an appointment to meet with a tutor via WebEx or email. Submit your questions and drafts at any stage of the writing process and hear back from a tutor within 48 hours.
- Math and Stats Tutoring - Book an appointment to meet with a math and stats tutor via WebEx.
- Email: email@example.com to consult with a Learning Specialist.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to consult with a Graduate Writing Specialist.
- Library Resources - Online resources are available 24/7. Make sure you're logged into the library's website first using your NSID and password. We have many tools available to make this as easy as possible.
- Study Resources - Develop strategies needed for online learning.
- Writing Help Resources - Review links to writing guides and resources, watch workshop recordings, and learn about citation.
- Math and Stats Help Resources - Review links to a variety of math and stats resources.
Help and documentation
If you are having trouble accessing any USask online resource, we are here to help. You will find help and documentation for some of the most common software you will use. If you can't find what you are looking for, please visit the IT Support portal for assistance.
For more information about changes to academic procedures related to your classes, exams and class registration due to COVID-19, please visit updates.usask.ca.