New Student Technology Information

Welcome! At Luther, you have a wide variety of help and services available to you, but if you're like most new students, there a couple things at the front of your mind. You probably want to know how to get connected to the internet, what a Norse Key is and how to get one, how you check your email, and how you print.

Other good resources are the New Student Guide, the Technology Help Desk, or rest of this website—specifically this page, which highlights some of the other common questions that new students have.

New Student FAQ

Where can I get answers to my questions about computing at Luther?

Technology Help Desk
Phone: 563.387.1000
Email: [email protected]

The Technology Help Desk is located in Preus Library and is open during the same hours as the library. Feel free to contact them with any computer or technology questions.

Do I need a computer?

Most Luther students bring a computer to campus, but it’s not required. Luther has over 500 computers in 20+ general computing labs and classrooms including mini labs in most residence halls. In additional, there are specialized departmental labs, computer stations in the Union, Kiosks in various locations around campus (e.g. Union, Preus Library, Koren, Sampson-Hoffland, Regents Center) and laptops available for check out in the Library.

Can I get connected to the internet from my room?

Yes. All students living in the residence halls have access to the wider internet through Luther's network. More information can be found at our network overview page

Can I setup my own network in my room?

No. In order to preserve the health of the campus network, individuals are not allowed to connect personal routers or switches to their network port. This restriction includes personal wireless devices such as routers, hubs, or switches (a.k.a. access points). While these devices are often desirable to individual users, use can interfere with the network and cause large-scale network outages. Luther’s wireless initiative aims to provide wireless access to public spaces in residence halls when technically feasible.

Is there wireless Internet on campus?

Yes. Wireless Internet is available in all campus buildings and residence halls. For best performance on Luther’s wireless network, make sure your device supports 802.11ac wireless standard. Most current devices support this. Note that as of Fall 2016, 802.11b is no longer supported on campus. (Other wireless standards will work but at decreased performance.)

If I buy a computer, what type should I buy?

Luther does not require a specific brand or type of computer, nor do we sell new computers. However we do recommend the following two companies, Apple and Dell, who offer discounts to students. Because Luther purchases computers from Apple and Dell, there are promotions available at the links below.

Should I buy a laptop or desktop?

This comes down to a personal choice. Personal laptops are not required nor expected. A laptop takes up less space and with a wireless card, can be used just about anywhere on campus. The cost of a laptop is higher though. Desktop computers are cheaper and generally have more power. However, you will give up space in your room plus have to purchase a monitor, external keyboard, and mouse.

What else will I need to buy?

It is highly recommended you bring a CAT5 or CAT6 network (Ethernet) cable. Even if you plan on using wireless, a cable can help. The Technology Help Desk also recommends bringing a USB thumb drive or flash drive.

Luther College is a Google Apps for Education institution. Therefore, we use Google Email, Calendar, and Docs, and these are available at no cost to you.

In addition, Microsoft Office (specifically Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) is available on lab and classroom computers. Because Luther College is a part of the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (IAICU) Microsoft Campus Agreement, Luther faculty, staff, and students can use Office 365 ProPlus at no cost on their personally-owned computers (up to 5 activations). To access the software, visit Those who want to download the software for offline use need to contact the Technology Help Desk.

What about viruses and malware?

You can use antivirus programs like Sophos, McAfee, Norton, Symantec, or AVG, some of which are free and/or included with your computer’s operating system. For more information, visit

See our Safe Computing page for information on how to stay safe and keep your computer healthy. Should you become infected or have troubles with viruses, the Technology Help Desk can provide tools and information to assist you. See more at the Virus Removal page.

When will I get my email account?

When you apply to Luther, you will receive an email notification that contains your Luther Norse Key. Keep it in a safe place, as your Norse Key is the user name and password to access to check your application status, your pending correspondence, your Luther financial aid data and search for course sections. Once you are admitted to Luther, you will be able to use your Norse Key for your Luther email, online directory,online course material, and Library resources. You will have access to these services long before you show up to Luther and can begin using your Norse Key immediately.

Will my classes use the internet and computers?

Luther classes often make use of a variety of internet and computer resources. Many professors use KATIE which allows them to make announcements, post assignments, give quizzes, and more. Your first experience with KATIE will be during Student Registration and Placement Tests.

Will the Technology Help Desk fix my computer?

The Technology Help Desk will make minor to moderate repairs to personal computers at no charge, however the owner is responsible for the cost of parts. Typical services include boot and driver issues, OS installs, hard drive failures, some component replacement, etc. We don't cover all major repairs or repair phones, gaming consoles, printers, etc. We reserve the right to refuse service, and the owner assumes all liability. Repairs are accepted as workload allows and typically not during breaks, summer, J-term, or during the first two weeks of the semester. For more information see our Hardware Repair page.

You're also always welcome to seek out services from another local provider who isn't affiliated with the college.

Can I use my computer skills in a work-study job?

Good with computers? Enjoy helping people? Then considering filling out an application with the Help Desk or Multimedia. We hire in J-Term and Spring semesters and do not require you to be an MIS or CS major. Visit for more information and to apply.

Can I get my Luther personal information online?

Much of your personal Luther information – grades, class registration, and financial documents – are available at Access is protected by your Norse Key.

What about using a cell phone at Luther?

Current students have found that many different providers and coverage plans service the Decorah area, but it’s a good idea to check with your provider. It’s also a good idea to get some experience with using your cell phone on campus before relying on it as your primary means of communication. The physical structure of some campus buildings may impede clear connections.

Providers with a local Decorah office include:

How Can I Replace a Lost or Damaged ID Card?

ID Cards can be replaced by visiting the Dining Services office in the Union. More information can be found at

Parents attend a presentation about much of this information. Is there a copy online?

Yes, the most recent presentation (2018) is right here.