Student Resources - Online Learning

​With the move of all CMU courses to an online format, students who have not previously taken online classes may feel overwhelmed preparing to take courses online. OIT has created this page as a quick reference for students. We'll continue updating this page with information about technology at CMU, general tips for effective technology use, and anything else we believe can support the online learning experience for CMU students.

While not strictly a technology resource, the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work has created a recording that we think all students should watch, especially those who feel anxious or unprepared for the transition to online courses. Remember: We're all in this together, and we'll get through it together. You can watch SASW's video on Chipcast.

If you encounter any issues using these or any other technologies at CMU, please contact the OIT Help Desk.

Getting connected

If you don't have access to the technology resources you need to support you for you online classes, please review our getting connected information to find out about additional resources that may be available to you.


Webex is the video conferencing software most commonly used by instructors to support online classes. It is available at no cost to all CMU students and can be installed on a variety of different devices. You can find a number of guides on how to use Webex in the phone and video conferencing category of our knowledge base.

We also highly recommend viewing the Student Webex Overview video, produced by Curriculum and Instructional Support.

Microsoft Teams

Similar to Webex, Microsoft Teams can be used for holding video conference sessions, either for a group or for individuals. It also does much more than this, including instant messaging, calendar integration, group organization, voice calls, collaborative document authoring, file sharing, and more.

One use case we think is perfect for students is to use Teams for group work. For example, with all recommendations against holding face-to-face meetings, you could replace a group meeting in Park Library with a virtual meeting through Teams. Just create a team, add your group members, and start collaborating.

To find out more about using Teams, check out our extensive collection of Teams guides in the knowledge base.

Adobe Creative Cloud

All CMU students are licensed to install and use the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of software for as long as they are active students. If you need to use Creative Cloud for class but would typically go to an in-person lab, you can instead download it to your personal computer. To learn how, visit our Creative Cloud installation knowledge base article.

Virtual Lab

CMU maintains a "Virtual Lab" that you can log into to get access to specialized software such as statistical packages. In most cases, the software included is difficult to license or expensive for home use. While courses have moved online, OIT has more than doubled the available connections to Virtual Lab to ensure that this service is available when you need it. If you haven't done so, we encourage you to check it out.

In our knowledge base, you can find out which software is available on Virtual Lab and how to install and configure the software used to access Virtual Lab.


Now more than ever, being fluent in Blackboard is important for the success of every student. We've collected a bunch of information here from different sources that we highly recommend. This should cover the basics (and more) of what you need to know to be highly successful at using Blackboard.

Information about Chromebooks

In general, OIT recommends against using a Chromebook for most students, especially at a time when they may not have access to a physical computer lab. While these devices are lightweight and can accomplish a lot of common computing tasks, they are not an effective replacement for a fully-fledged computer (e.g., Windows or macOS), as they are unable to install most desktop applications.

Essentially, a Chromebook is a laptop that contains nothing but a browser, and it is used primarily to interact with web-based services. (Some Chromebooks also allow the installation of Android apps.) For a really good explanation, we recommend this Chromebook article from Android Authority.

In short, while a Chromebook works very well for interacting with most online CMU services, some support for crucial services is missing. For example, Chromebooks are unable to install software like the Adobe Creative Cloud package described above and cannot install the desktop version of Office programs.

Additional student resources - not necessarily IT-related

We know this is an especially challenging time for students, and OIT has partnered with offices like Curriculum and Instructional Support to collect information relevant to students. Because of that, a lot of information that isn't necessarily IT-related has come our way, and we wanted to share it with you.

You can find that information on our additional student resources page.