Courses in SENS have been designed to maximize accessibility so that you can get the most out of your experiences without needing a top-of-the-line computer. Once you enroll, you will be given access to USask’s computing resources, and all the programs you need for participating in courses and enjoying student life will be freely available.

SENS relies on a few online platforms for course delivery and facilitating interactions with your instructors and fellow students. Additional details for these programs are listed below. Based on the technical requirements of these platforms, we have included below the recommended minimum computer system that will ensure you can take full advantage of being a SENS student.

Additional programs that require intensive computing (such as ArcMap, MATLAB, and Vensim) can be run (for free) through USask’s VLab. VLab is a virtual computing lab that provides you with access to a program’s GUI and full functionality, while keeping the high-intensity computing on USask’s servers. This means that you can use a very processing-intensive program with minimal requirements from your personal computer.

We realize that everyone’s access to technology differs. Although you may be able to complete parts of your online courses using other digital devices (e.g., a tablet), we strongly suggest that you use a personal computer. Below is a suggested minimum computer build based on digital requirements for the commonly used applications in our programs. Computers that do not meet all these standards may work for some of the applications in your program, but this recommended build will allow you to get the most out of your experience in SENS. Regardless of your computer system, we strongly suggest that you run the most recent versions of the operating system and web browser that your computer can manage.

We recommend a computer system that has the following specifications:


Windows-based PC

Apple Mac/macOS-based PC

Operating System

Windows 10

macOS X (10.15 “Catalina”)


Intel Core i5 based model (or comparable)

Intel Core i5 based model (or comparable)


4 GB

4 GB


Applications will require 5 GB of hard drive space (and we suggest that at least 10% of your hard drive always be left empty)

Applications will require 5 GB of hard drive space (and we suggest that at least 10% of your hard drive always be left empty)

Screen Resolution

1024 x 768

1024 x 768


Ethernet or WiFi; available USB port(s) to accommodate recommended accessories

Ethernet or WiFi; available USB port(s) to accommodate recommended accessories

Web Browser

Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome

Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome


To take full advantage of your time in a SENS program, you will want to participate in synchronous activities like discussions and lectures where you interact with your fellow students and instructors in real-time. To do this, you will need a high-speed (broadband) internet connection and we recommend that your internet have at least 2.0 Mbps bandwidth – also described as internet “speed” – for both upload (sending) and download (receiving).

Please remember that if you want your instructors and fellow students to see you during videoconferencing, which will make for a more personal experience for everyone, you will also need a webcam. While better rated (i.e., higher resolution) webcams will improve the picture quality of how everyone sees you, being present by video is better than not being there at all!  

All the applications and platforms listed below are available free to students enrolled in SENS programs.


Canvas is USask’s learning management system (LMS). An LMS is an online platform used for posting learning content and conducting learning activities (like submitting and grading assignments, or posting in discussion boards) for formal courses and other learning activities. Access to Canvas is entirely online, and Canvas runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, or any other device with a modern web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari).     


Panopto is a platform for viewing and creating video presentations. You can view Panopto videos online from a computer, tablet or smart phone, and need only an up-to-date web browser (latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari are supported).

If you want to create videos in Panopto, you will need to install the program on your computer. There are different specific system requirements based on whether you have a Windows-based operating system or a Mac-based operating system.


WebEx is a videoconferencing platform (similar to Zoom) and can be run through a web browser or as a desktop app. WebEx runs on Windows versions 7, 8, and 10, on Mac OS X (10.13, 10.14, 10.15), and on a variety of Linux platforms. To get the most out of WebEx, we recommend that all users run Mozilla Firefox (v.52 or later) or Chrome (latest version).  

Microsoft Office 365

In addition to keeping you connected during your SENS program, we also want to support your productivity. Therefore, all USask students can download and install Microsoft Office 365 on up to five computers at no cost. This Microsoft Office suite contains the latest versions of the core Office productivity programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more) and, because the programs are integrated across the Office 365 platform, they will help you work more efficiently. Office 365 runs on Windows platforms (10 or 8.1) or any of the three most recent versions MacOS (currently 10.13, 10.14, 10.15). Note that you will need an internet connection to download Microsoft Office 365.