EPD - Getting Started - Accelerated Orientation to the Online Learning Environment
It is important for new online students to work through each of the sections below. Each section will cover basic preparations for different technologies or resources in the online learning environment.
What are the computer requirements for EPD online graduate programs?
Computer hardware, software, and a reliable internet connection are the primary means of participating in courses and are significant contributors to academic success. Review the EPD - Technologies - Technical Requirements carefully.
Computer Equipment and Software
All students are responsible for the cost of computer equipment and software required by the program. Note that all of the UW-Madison online graduate students are eligible for hardware and software discounts, and in some cases, free downloadable software. View the EPD - Technologies - Software and Plugins eHelp page for more information.
UW Email Basics
All UW-Madison online graduate students are provided an official UW Email account when they activate their UW NetID (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). The university sends all official correspondence to the UW Email account, so even though your UW Email can be forwarded to a preferred account (such as Gmail or Yahoo! Mail), it is best to regularly check to make sure that all UW Email is being received through the preferred account. Remember that the UW NetID must already be activated at the beginning of this orientation to access WiscMail and other UW services.
- UW Email can be checked via the web at: https://wiscmail.wisc.edu
- View the following KB page to learn more about UW Email.
My UW-Madison Portal
My UW-Madison (http://my.wisc.edu) is the primary portal for all students, faculty, and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Students access the portal by logging in with their UW NetID. The portal website allows students to register for courses, pay tuition, access final grades, view textbook information, order transcripts, etc.
- Students have access to a series of interactive student demos provided by the UW Office of the Registrar: http://registrar.wisc.edu/demos.htm. These will provide additional instruction on how to accomplish various tasks within the My UW-Madison portal.
Access to Online Course Sites
Faculty teach their online courses in one of two learning management systems (LMS) at UW-Madison. Depending on the course and instructor. Online courses are in either Learn@UW-D2L or UW-Madison Moodle. Both systems are officially supported LMSs for delivering online courses at the UW-Madison. Regardless of the LMS, a UW NetID is used to login to either through the UW-Madison Course Dashboard. Instructors will use one of these LMSs to deliver and facilitate an online course. The LMS will be your one stop for all course-related activities. This is where you will find assignment due dates, gradebook, collaborative tools such as discussion forums, communication tools, and details regarding live web conferences. Faculty for each of the courses will communicate at the beginning of each semester which system will be used. Use the links below to learn more about how to use these two systems. One of the first things that should be done after logging into Learn@UW for the first time is to go and update the Learn@UW Profile. This allows students to learn about each other.
Live Web Conferencing with Blackboard Collaborate
Most of the online courses will require regular weekly live web conferencing sessions. Blackboard Collaborate is used as the web conferencing system. Students will have two options for the audio portion of the live conferences, and can use either the built-in VoIP, or a provided companion teleconference. For those that use the VoIP option, it is strongly recommended that a USB headset (or headphones and external microphone) are used when when participating in live conferences. Look for a headset that has sufficient noise canceling, plus a mute option. Blackboard Collaborate is fully cross-platform and runs in the users web browser using a java plug-in, so students will want to test their computer systems to ensure that the web conferencing toll can be run successfully, particularly if connecting from a corporate IT environment or behind a firewall.
UW-Madison Document Collaboration and Management
There are options for document and file collaboration management and sharing available at UW-Madison. All students, faculty, and staff at UW-Madison have access to campus instances of Box.com, and Google Apps (Google Docs and Google Sites). Each of these poplar cloud-based tools are industry leaders and provide UW-Madison affiliated students, faculty, and staff with world-class document collaboration management options. Access to each of these tools is available with a UW NetID. Please login and become familiar with both of these tools as they will likely be used considerably throughout the graduate program. The links below will provide additional information about each of the tools.
- UW-Madison Box login
- UW-Madison Box information form the UW KnowledgeBase
- UW-Madison Google Apps login
- UW-Madison Google Apps information and FAQ
Online Community & Support Site
Each online degree program will have an online community and support site to act as an online student center while students are in the program. This will be a very important online site throughout the program. Within this site, students have access to student services forums, EPD department technical support, and other resources available only to online graduate students in our programs. The site can be found in your "ongoing list of courses after logging into the UW Course Dashboard with a UW NetID. Please note that new students may not see their Community & Support site until about 4-6 days before the semester begins. If you do not see your Community & Support site, please contact email@example.com.
- During the first visit to the Community & Support site, if the Learn@UW profile has not already been update, it should be done. If there are any questions, they can be posted in the Main forum. Finally, students should feel free to introduce themselves in one of the Main Forums as well.
This concludes the online orientation. If there are any additional questions or additional information is needed, students can log into the Community & Support site to connect with department staff, faculty, and fellow students, or email their EPD student services contact.
- If there are any questions about the learning technologies or other technology-related issues, please email EPD Online Support.
- If there are any other program or student services questions at this point, please contact the Program Director, or your student services contact.