University of Wisconsin–Madison
Line art image of a house with a WiFi signals extending out of the roof

Technology for learning remotely

Most UW–Madison resources are accessible with an internet connection. Here’s what you’ll need in order to access and use them.

Looking for IT resources to help you work remotely? Go to this guide for university employees.

Tools you'll need

Computer

We recommend either:

  • Mac computer running at least OS 10.13 (High Sierra)
  • Windows PC running Windows 10.

With these minimum specifications and hardware:

  • Intel Core i5 or AMD A10 processor
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 256 GB solid state drive
  • 1280 x 768 screen resolution
  • Integrated webcam and microphone (not cell phones)

Internet access

A reliable, high-speed internet connection is also a must. The connection should have a 15 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better download speed, 5 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better upload speed, and a ‘ping time’ of less than 75 milliseconds. A wireless hotspot or tethering from a phone will not be sufficient. For help determining these specifications, contact the DoIT Help Desk’s Home Internet Connection Doctor Service.

Web browser

In general Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer or Safari work in most cases. With certain systems, however, you may be restricted to using a particular browser and version. For instance, a couple systems require Google Chrome (minimum version 79).

Software

Get access to available services and technology on our Software service page.

Course-specific requirements

There may be additional requirements for hardware and software at the course-level. Check with your professor and/or school for these requirements.

Canvas is your home for remote learning

Teaching Effectively in Canvas

UW–Madison supports a variety of tools that enable courses to continue when students are unable to attend class for an extended period of time or in the event that classes are canceled unexpectedly. Canvas is the preferred tool but your professor may use other tools.

Login to CanvasThen look for your course(s) in your Dashboard.

Here’s what you can do in Canvas

  • Access course materials
  • Watch any recorded presentations
  • Interact in classes and meetings real-time or recorded
  • Interact and engage with faculty and class members via announcements, email, and discussion forums
  • Access course assignments, quizzes, and exams remotely
  • View grades

Tech you may need

Attend or participate remotely

Your class may be held using a webinar platform like Blackboard Collaborate or Webex for live, synchronous class sessions, office hours or review sessions. If so, please make sure you have the following:

  • Webcam (most laptops have a built-in webcam that will work fine) 
  • Microphone (most laptops have a built-in microphone that will work fine). You can use a headset, earbuds that have a microphone, or you will also have an option call in using a telephone

Create documents, spreadsheets and presentations

Access specialized software

  • Some of the specialized software and applications available in computer labs is available for download and installation on your personal computer via the Campus Software Library.

Remote learning checklist

While there will be many different approaches, tools, and technologies used across UW–‍Madison courses, you can expect an engaging and interactive learning environment. Plan to access your course(s) on a daily basis during the semester.

Do these to maximize your success

  • Check your UW–‍Madison email (or forward to your personal email) for course announcements from faculty/TAs.
  • Configure your Canvas notifications to make sure you are receiving the course communications you would like to receive (see how-to documentation from Canvas).
  • Access key content in Canvas including a course syllabus, readings and online lectures, as well as any supplemental resources, videos, etc.
  • Familiarize yourself with the course delivery. Are there live meetings in Blackboard Collaborate or Webex? Are there requirements to interact in asynchronous forums?   
  • Understand your instructor’s expectations of you and how they plan to teach online.
  • Submit all assignments, quizzes and exams on time.
  • Connect with your instructor if you have questions or need help.

Communication guidelines for online courses

The quality of your interactions with instructors and classmates have a major impact on your experience as an online student. Observe any guidelines provided by your instructor. Keep this “netiquette” framework and its guidelines in mind as you participate in your online course.

Review and follow your instructor’s communication guidelines. Your instructor may have communication guidelines that are specific to your online course. Be sure to review your course syllabus and any emails or announcements from your professor to learn about these expectations.

Use a civil tone and non-offensive language. While you are encouraged to think critically and engage in rigorous debate, please avoid using personal attacks and crude language. This is especially important when discussing topics which may elicit strong personal responses from course participants.

Be cautious when using humor or sarcasm. If your tone is misunderstood by readers, your words may be taken literally or offensively.

Write clearly and succinctly. Aim to make your messages easy to read and understand. If you frequently rely on idioms or slang phrases, consider how your messages might be rephrased for clarity.

Attribute any sources you use. Doing so should make your comments more effective while also encouraging a more rigorous and structured debate.

Respect others’ privacy. Avoid sharing personal information about others without their consent.

Get the help you need

Need help participating in your courses?


Your instructor is your best resource.

Need a disability-related accommodation?


The McBurney Disability Resource Center exists to give you the assistance you need.

Need help with a technology issue?


The DoIT Help Desk stands at the ready via phone, email, chat.