What Is the Online Classroom Like at UW?

When contemplating the pursuit of an online degree, a common concern arises: What will the online classroom experience be like? If you’ve had any less-than-stellar experiences with online learning in the past, rest assured that it’s not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. 

At UW–Madison, we pride ourselves on our optimized online learning environment, from the online student orientation that ensures you know how to use Canvas to the learning objectives you can immediately apply in the workplace. Today, we’re presenting some of the unique advantages of UW–Madison’s online classrooms and answering all your critical questions along the way. 

What Makes UW–Madison’s Online Classroom Stand Out? 

We have a penchant for standing out, and we’re not just referring to the vibrant photos of UW–Madison’s campus displayed on some of our Canvas course pages (though they certainly contribute to the virtual Badger experience). 

Below, we highlight some of our online classroom’s most advantageous qualities: 

Become the Master of Canvas With Our Online Student Learning Orientation 

Before beginning online courses, every student takes our online student learning orientation (OSLO). OSLO is a six- to eight-hour course that mimics the look and feel of an online class. 

The first half of the orientation concentrates on setting up and using Canvas, the online learning platform that hosts all of our courses and their materials. During this time, you’ll become more comfortable with logging in, sending messages, accessing the materials in each module and submitting your work. 

The latter half of the course prompts you to concentrate on any challenges you may encounter as you add the role of ‘student’ into your already packed schedule. It encourages you to reflect on areas that may require additional attention as an online learner, such as refining your time management skills to positively impact your work-life balance. 

This section of OSLO involves developing a learning plan, where you’ll define what type of schedule might work best for your lifestyle. For example, some students find it more accessible to complete classwork during lunch. Others wake up early to get their coursework done. Some learners work on it after putting their children to bed or on weekends. 

Whatever you decide, the learning plan serves as a prime opportunity for candid self-assessment, allowing you to identify potential obstacles and strategize on how to overcome them as you work towards your end goal: earning your graduate credential. 

Apply Your Learning Objectives in Real-Time 

Want to learn Python online—or any other industry-standard software, for that matter? From completing online assignments to honing your skills with a variety of software, including Matlab, Tableau, Python, and R, our rigorous courses let you apply what you’re learning in the classroom to your job in real-time. 

Participate in Weekly Web Conferences 

At UW–Madison, we use the online classroom to host weekly one-hour web conferences, where students engage with both peers and professors. While these conferences maintain a flexible structure, they typically involve the professor reviewing the previous week’s material, addressing student questions, discussing the current week’s module and breaking out into small groups for in-depth discussions or case study reviews. 

These weekly web conferences offer an excellent opportunity for learning and mastering the material within each module.  Web conferences are scheduled for times that are convenient for working professionals.  

Enjoy a Learning Environment Tailored for Engineering Students 

As an engineer, you probably appreciate pragmatic approaches to life. That’s why we made sure the online classroom is streamlined and efficient. Would you like the course learning objectives to be easily laid out for you? Done. Do you want the materials in one easy-to-find location? We’ve got you. 

In addition, our support team collaborates behind the scenes with every instructor, ensuring that each course is equipped with all the necessary materials for student success. Whether they’re meticulously checking every link and assignment for flawless functionality or partnering with faculty members to guarantee their qualifications meet our educational standards, the support team takes responsibility for ensuring the online classroom operates like a finely tuned machine. 

What Does the Online Classroom Look Like? 

Thanks to the support team, we ensure that your course materials are prepared (and perfected) long before you begin your coursework. From notes to audio recordings, you can download any of the materials directly from Canvas, offering the flexibility to complete your work at your convenience. For example, if you’re looking for something other than a podcast to listen to on your drive to work, try learning on the go by listening to a lecture as you drive.  

Regarding the organization of online classrooms, professors typically structure their courses with a module for each week, consolidating links, notes, readings, recordings, problem sets and assignments into one convenient location. This standardized setup across most courses ensures a familiar and consistent environment, leaving you well-prepared to dive into your coursework post-OSLO completion. 

What Does a Week in the Life of an Online Badger Look Like? 

While every class may vary slightly, you can generally expect to spend 9 to 10 hours a week interacting with the course materials for one online course. 

Below, we break down the cadence of a week for a 3-credit course: 

  • Beginning of the week
    Read any written material and view any audio or video clips in that week’s module. 
  • Midweek
    Prepare for and participate in the weekly web conference and discussion forum. 
  • End of the week
    Complete any outstanding assignments for the weekly module. 

Take Advantage of UW–Madison’s Online Classroom 

If you’re looking to expand on your current skillset and advance your career as an engineer, look no further. We proudly offer several online engineering programs to choose from, tailored to your interests and career ambitions.  

Explore our program offerings to find the perfect fit for you. When you’re ready to take the next step, click here to apply and embark on your journey to success.