Frequently asked questions about UWM online

Tell me more about online classes.

Online courses and programs are taught entirely over the Internet, allowing you the freedom to learn when and where you choose. You’ll work closely with the instructor and the students in your class, just as you would in a traditional classroom, but you’ll do so by participating via online discussions or forums and completing your assignments. You will not be entirely on your own, but you will need to learn good organizational and time-management skills to be successful as an online student.

What is the profile of a successful online student?

Fully online courses are designed for students who are interested in active and participatory learning in an online format. They might be a brand-new, first-year student, or someone who wants to finish that degree they started two or five or maybe even 12 years ago. Most online students are busy with work and/or family and want to replace travel and on-campus time with online study. They’re independent and disciplined enough to value the freedom of “anytime, anyplace” learning, but they also enjoy learning from moderated online conversations with fellow students and appreciate the direct feedback they receive from online professors and instructors.

Can I take some courses online and some courses on campus?

Of course! Some students prefer only online classes while others choose the combination of both online and in-person courses if they live in the area. Both provide a high-quality, student-centered experience. Most students looking to save time and/or who need a more flexible learning and study environment prefer online classes and programs to in-person courses.

I’ve heard the term “blended” or “hybrid” classes. Are those available through UWM Online?

Yes, UWM Online offers blended courses. Students who live near our campus can add some face-to-face coursework into their online studies. “Blended” or “hybrid” describes courses that combine face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning. A significant portion of the class’s activities takes place online, and time spent on instruction that traditionally occurs in the classroom is reduced, but not eliminated. This allows you much more flexible scheduling, while maintaining the face-to-face contact with the instructor and classmates that is typical of a more traditional course. The division of online and classroom instruction for each blended course will vary depending on the course content and the instructor’s course design. See the schedule of classes for more details.
Instructors provide clear details regarding what classwork will be required in class and what work will be required when online. Online course materials and learning activities vary from class to class but may include online discussions, small group work, games, simulations, self-testing exercises, audio or video lectures, and tutorials.

Are there things that I can do to prepare for successful online learning?

Most students who take online or blended courses report that they enjoy the format more than a traditional face-to-face course that emphasizes lectures and testing. Almost all students who take online and blended courses appreciate the convenience and flexibility to adapt to individual work and family schedules.

We’ve identified four questions that you should ask yourself before you enroll in an online or blended course. Be honest with yourself. If you answer “yes” to all of these questions, then the online/blended style of learning may be an excellent fit for you. If you answer “no” to any of the questions, online/blended courses may work for you, but you may need to make a few adjustments in your schedule and study habits to succeed. Your instructor or advisor may be able to suggest means to improve your ability to succeed in online and blended learning.

1. Do I express myself well in writing and have good reading skills?
Reading and writing are more important online than in a traditional face-to-face course. You must be able to read others’ writing — both your instructor’s and your fellow students’ — and understand what they mean. You also have to be able to write clearly and concisely, with few grammatical or spelling errors. You must be able to follow written directions to complete an assignment, and be willing to ask questions when you don’t understand what to do.
2. Do I possess basic computer and technical skills?
You will need: a relatively recent computer, or access to a computer workstation in the university computer laboratories or in the public library; fast (broadband) connection, either through a cable modem, DSL, or a “hardwired” campus or public library computer; and ability to upload and download files to your course website, search and browse the web, use email and interact on a discussion forum or bulletin board. You will need to know how to type well and use basic programs such as a word processor. Some courses will require you to know how to use other computer programs such as Excel or PowerPoint, so you should check out the course syllabus as early as possible to find out whether you will be able to meet the computer requirements.
3. Can I consistently set aside a minimum of six to 10 hours per week to complete all courses and assignments (estimates vary greatly based on program, number of courses and personal learning style)?
You will do at least as much work in an online or blended course as in a traditional face-to-face course. You must be prepared to schedule some time online several days each week. You should expect to log in to the course website at least three times a week and spend at least two to three hours doing online work. If your other responsibilities make this schedule impossible, online/blended learning may not be right for you at this time.
4. Am I willing to take responsibility for my own learning as well as work collaboratively with my classmates and instructor?
Online and blended courses typically place significantly less emphasis on lecturing and exams. This means that you must be prepared to do different kinds of work than you would do in a traditional face-to-face course. The work required may be more creative, may require more thought than simply memorizing material for testing purposes, and may ask you to demonstrate your understanding of the course ideas and concepts by applying them to real-world situations. You may expect to be involved in small-group collaborative work online. Teamwork is common in blended courses, and if you feel that you work better in isolation from others, you may not find the blended format suitable.