Preparing for Laptop Instruction

So, you’re enrolled in a COM class which will be taught on laptops? Here’s what to do 1-2 weeks before the class begins.

Step 1: Decide what computer to use

COM recommends students use their personal laptop if at all possible; it will be the most convenient option as you’ll always have the computer available to you, don’t need to worry about saving files to another location, etc. But if you don’t have a laptop or if your computer can’t run the applications needed, don’t worry: COM has a small fleet of laptops which you can checkout and return before and after class. Please visit COM 205 if you need to check out a loaner laptop.

COM also has an open edit lab in RM 338, the 3rd floor edit suites, and the 200+ computer cluster at Mugar Library available for use outside of class.

Should you buy a new computer? Try your current machine before you buy! COM has a page of recommended laptop specifications but don’t assume your current won’t work. Many laptops, even those which are 6-8 years old, will be fine for many courses. There is no harm in attempting to install the applications and opening a test file — your computer could be just fine for the class.

Step 2: Install the Applications needed

Before the first class, the professor will likely post a list of applications used to Blackboard. Many classes use applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud suite which is free for BU students but requires completing a request form to gain access. Since it can take 1-2 weekdays for your account to become active after submitting the form (plus about an hour to download and install the programs) you’ll want to do this process well before the first day of class.

Important: If a professor requests students come to class with an application installed, they expect the student to be ready to use the application at the start of class. Faculty will not be lenient of students who wait until the class has started to begin the download and install process.

With only a few exceptions, all software taught in COM are free for students to use. Most professional media application (Adobe Suite, Avid Media Composer, MS Office) are covered via a BU/COM license. Other applications are freely available, such as Audacity and Blackmagic Resolve. See the Software Downloads page for more information.

Note: There are a few applications such a Pro Tools and Movie Magic that are used in advanced classes and have a small fee ($30-150/semester) attached. Faculty will discusses these applications on the first or second meeting.

Step 3: Test the Application

Once the application to be taught is installed, try opening it on your computer. If you get an error message, such as “Critical Failure” or “Cannot launch”, please contact COM IT for assistance.

Many faculty have a test or example file saved on Blackboard which you can attempt to open to further verify the application is working correctly.

It’s important to resolve any install or computer problems before the first day of class or before the Professor has announced it will be needed. If you are unable to resolve your laptop’s problems, you can check-out one of COM’s laptops to use for the class.