Students taking online courses at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) need to have, at a minimum, the following:
  • Access to a desktop or laptop computer with a high speed internet connection.
  • Ability to use word processing software to create, edit and save documents. Microsoft Word or Word-compatible programs required. (e.g. Open office).
  • Ability to open PDF files.
  • Access to an e-mail account. 
  • Headset.

Your instructor for your specific online course will tell you if there are any additional technical requirements.


Classwork is facilitated through D2L, an online course management system. You will receive information about how to log-in to D2L. Once you log in, you will see any online courses you are registered for. Your instructor will provide you with specific information about how that class’ information is organized. Normally courses show up in D2L one day after registration. Instructions, video tutorials and a 24/7 help desk number are also available on your individual start page right after you have logged on. D2L is accessed at or from UWM’s home page at


You will be sent information about your University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) email account. Follow the instructions for setting up your account. Class information, notices about your registration, and other important information may be sent via your UWM email account so it is important that you regularly check your in-box. Pantherlink, the UWM email program, may be accessed at or from UWM’s home page at


Many students have the misconception that an online course will be less work or will be less rigorous. This is not the case. An online course as the same rigor as a face-to-face course, except that you have more flexibility regarding when and where you complete your work.

The online class is always open, and you can listen to or read the lectures anytime. You can even talk about them anytime through threaded discussions. This gives you a chance to think about your response. Because of this, many online students come for the convenience and return for the quality. They find they make more thoughtful contributions to these asynchronous conversations than they do in traditional settings. The bad news is that you have to be self-disciplined and highly organized, learn how to communicate without meeting face-to-face and learn how to effectively use the technology to do well in the course.

You have to remember to go online and complete the reading and lecture, to actively participate in the discussions on a timely basis and communicate online, to e-mail or call the professor or a classmate when you are lost or have a question, and to learn how to effectively complete individual or group projects online. It is important that you schedule dedicated time for yourself to go online at least 3 times a week and not leave it to chance to find the time each week.  

The successful online learner:

  • communicates effectively in writing.
  •  is highly motivated and challenged by being in charge of his/her own learning.
  • may need flexible scheduling but understands that flexibility does not imply that completion of the course requirements will be easy.
  • demonstrates problem-solving skills and the ability to work through difficulties.
  • manages time well by prioritizing and establishing a personal schedule.
  • completes assigned work by deadlines.
  • uses a personal computer and the Internet to access information and to communicate.

For additional reading on how to make the online class experience a success, see: