Technology for learning remotely

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

Interested in helpful tips for remote learningLooking for help with working remotely?

In this page:

Special note

Please contact your instructor as soon as possible if internet connectivity or lack of access to certain equipment/software (such as laptops, digital learning tools, or printers) is inhibiting your course work or ability to participate in class. Instructors are also encouraged to use asynchronous instruction and learning activities wherever possible to reduce the need for internet bandwidth. 

Internet access

A reliable, high-speed internet connection is important to being able to participate fully in online learning. We recommend an internet connection with 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

Not sure what this means? Check your internet speed using a speed test and compare it against the recommended specification above.

If you have a slower connection, try these tips for How to manage slower internet or low bandwidth.  

Tools you'll need


We recommend either a:

  • Mac computer running at least OS 10.13 (High Sierra), or
  • Windows PC running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10

With the minimum specifications and hardware:

  • Intel Core i5 or AMD A10 processor
  • 8 GB RAM 
  • 256 GB solid state drive
  • 1280 x 768 screen resolution and integrated graphics 
  • Webcam
  • Microphone

To learn more about these minimum requirements, see Minimum computer specifications for remote learning. If you need a laptop, see the Laptop checkout during COVID-19 university response.

Note, some schools and colleges offer additional technology recommendations to ensure your laptop has the minimum specifications necessary to run certain software applications related to the course.  Please check list below or contact your advisors to confirm any additional recommendations.

Web browser

In general, use Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer or Safari. With certain systems, however, you may be restricted to using a particular browser.

Documents, spreadsheets and presentations


A variety of specialized software and applications are available for use. Learn more about the Campus Software Library and How to get software while remote. There may be additional requirements for software or hardware at the course level. Check with your professor and/or school for these requirements.


Computer lab printing for students is suspended on campus. In many cases, you can upload documents electronically in Canvas, or share via Google docs or email. 

Canvas is your home for remote learning

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.

Log in to Canvas.  Then 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
  • More tips on how to use Canvas

Video communication and instructional tools

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Kaltura MediaSpace


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.

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 not-in-real-time 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 remote courses

The quality of your interactions with instructors and classmates has 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 instructor 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 help with a technical issue? The DoIT Help Desk stands at the ready via phone, email or chat.

Need a disability-related accommodation? Contact the McBurney Disability Resource Center for assistance.

Keywords:internet access remote learning covid-19 coronavirus VPN Canvas web browser software attend participate accessibility help communication guidelines resources   Doc ID:98876
Owner:ERIK G.Group:DoIT Communications KB
Created:2020-03-16 09:36 CDTUpdated:2020-05-11 10:57 CDT
Sites:DoIT Communications KB, DoIT Help Desk
Feedback:  13   7