Planets, Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe

Technical Requirements


Before you begin working through the course content, you need to make sure the computer you are using is configured properly for the multimedia that you will encounter. Below are specifications and tests to help make sure everything is in working order.

General Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications.

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure website, which means that your connection is encrypted. We do however link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions below to view the mixed content.

  • Firefox
    In “Permissions” Menu, select “allow” for specific media content you are trying to access.
  • Chrome
    Click the shield icon to the right of the address bar.
    In the icon dialog box, click "Load anyway."
  • Internet Explorer
    Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click "Show all content."

Movies and Videos

We have YouTube video material in many of the lessons in this course. Chances are pretty good that you already use a Web browser that is configured to view YouTube videos, but to be safe, here is a "test" file that you should try out now to make sure you won't have problems later in the course. If this video (2:30) runs smoothly for you, then you're ready to go. If you can't get the video to play on your computer, then please refer to the steps at the bottom of this page to troubleshoot your problem.

Video: How Online Learning Works at Penn State World Campus (2:29)

Click here for video transcript.

Dr. David Lee (Associate Professor of Special Education): World Campus brings all the expertise that Penn State can bring to bear, and all the technology that Penn State could bring to the table, and puts it in one package for students.

Dr. Jeffrey Pinto (Lead Faculty, Project Management): You have a world-class University offering a world-class degree and that speaks for itself.

Alicia Swaggerty (Instructional Designer): We are continuously researching teaching, learning, design and technology, to bring the best possible online classroom to our students.

Dr. Craig Weidemann (Vice President, Outreach): We have a lot of faculty that are really finding what's happening, as far as trends in their fields, coming to the world campus for developing programs, that are really providing people with the skill sets to make them more marketable in today's economy.

Alicia Swaggerty: There's many tools that we can use to offer our students the flexibility, the anytime anywhere. We have students from all ends of the world. We strive to enable them. They're working adults. They have families . We want to make sure they're comfortable in online classroom.

Outside the classroom we offer Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and our World Campus blog, to bring that social presence to our students, so they feel part of the Penn State community. And in inside the classroom, we go into different tools so you are in constant contact with your faculty, your instructor, and your fellow classmates.

Alicia Swaggerty: Illuminate Live is a videoconferencing system. Illuminate Live is nice where you can have a whiteboard, so you can bring your assignment inside the classroom.

Background: The object is going to strike the ground six seconds after launch.

Alicia Swaggerty: We don't want our students to stumble with technology, have any frustration with technology. We want that to be as transparent as possible for our students. We want them to have fun with the learning part and concentrate on the material, on the assignments.

Barb Weber (Student, Special Education Program): The faculty are wonderful. They support the student 100% of the way. I think they make themselves extraordinarily accessible.

William Wells (Student, Psychology): All the professors very easy to communicate with. They have posted office times where you can call them and get them on the phone. You can email them. You can communicate with them within the course itself. So there's many different avenues to communicate with the professors.

Dana Aldrich (Student, Project Management Program): It's very interactive and it's a great learning experience.

Having trouble? Troubleshooting tips...

Request Help. If you still have not had any success, then it is time for you to contact the HelpDesk. University Park or Commonwealth Campus students should contact the IT Service Desk, and World Campus students should contact the Outreach Helpdesk. It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Vague descriptions of a problem only delay assistance. Try to include information such as:

  • the specific course page, quiz question, etc., you were on, what you attempted to do when that failed, and the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen;
  • the date and time when your problem occurred;
  • any other pertinent information (whether the problem happens consistently and always in the same way, etc.).


This course must be viewed using one of the following browsers: Firefox (any version), Safari (versions 5.1 or 6.0), Chrome (0.3 or later), or Internet Explorer with the MathPlayer PlugIn. If you use any other browser, there will be pages containing equations that do not render properly. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).