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Located upstairs in the Instructional Center next door to Student Support Services, Southwestern’s I.T. staff are happy to assist you with your technology needs.

Scott Helm, Director of Information Technology
Darrell Ellis, PC Technician
Duane Feldhacker, PC Technician
Martin Reeves, Analyst Programmer
Paul Russell, System and Database Administrator

Buying a new computer?

Our I.T. staff occasionally gets asked "I'm looking for a new computer, what should I buy?" We recommend looking for the following specs when buying any new computer, especially if you plan on using the computer for any kind of online classes or online portion of a face to face class. (Note: These are merely recommendations, and are subject to change without notice. Southwestern Community College is not liable for any difficulties you may experience using a computer you purchase based on these recommendations)

  • Windows 10, but stay away from anything that says "S Mode." Some budget-priced computers have an "S Mode." This is a locked down, limited version of Windows and it’s sometimes hard to install any programs that aren't certified by Microsoft such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Most computers with "S Mode" also have small hard drives that fill up very quickly.
  • At least a 500 GB hard drive recommended. Anything less than 500 GB can fill up very quickly once you begin installing programs, saving pictures, running updates, etc.
  • At least 8 GB of RAM recommended. 
  • Intel i5 processor or higher (or an AMD A10 or higher).
  • Another thing to keep in mind...will you be watching DVDs or installing any programs off of a CD? Many newer laptops don't come with CD/DVD drives anymore. If you plan on using CDs or DVDs, make sure it comes with a CD/DVD drive. If you've purchased a laptop that doesn't have one, you can buy an external CD/DVD drive at many retailers. These plug into the USB port.

What about Mac's and Chromebooks? Some students are able to access their online classes from a MacBook just fine. Our I.T. department does not officially support Macs, however. If you run into trouble and need assistance we may be unable to help you. As for Chromebooks, some programs such as "Lockdown Browser" (which is required for online classes, and some face to face classes), cannot be installed on a Chromebook. Therefore, we highly recommend purchasing a Windows based PC for your college experience.

Microsoft Office 365

Southwestern students can install Microsoft Office 365 for free.   For more information on how to install Office 365, please see these directions

Known Issues:

  • It has been brought to our attention that Respondus Lockdown Browser will not work on Chromebooks.   Any assignments requiring Lockdown Browser will need to be completed on a Windows or Mac computer.
  • Some students have reported issues getting Cengage to work.   This is due to browser compatibility with the Flash plugin.   Please see this page for more information and tips on how to get it working.