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Medical College of Wisconsin MPH Program Online Learning

Online learning enables students to take courses over the Internet, and all MPH and certificate courses are offered in this format. Online learning, also known as distance education, is gaining popularity and provides students with the freedom to “attend” a class from anywhere at any time. The structure of online learning is quite different than the traditional lecture-style format, so many students ask themselves:

Is online learning right for me?

To help you decide whether online learning is right for you, we provide information in an interactive PowerPoint presentation as well as in a list on this website.

Interactive PowerPoint – Is online learning right for me? (PDF)
Answer questions and receive feedback on whether online learning is for you.

Other items to consider:

  • Technical Proficiency and Access
    • Online learning requires regular access to a computer with Internet as well as basic competence in word processing, email, and Internet. The MPH Program utilizes the learning management system, Brightspace which runs well on the most common operating systems. Brightspace is compatible with a PC utilizing MS Windows OS: Firefox or Chrome. Internet Explorer 11 and Edge are supported, but Internet Explorer 10 and earlier are not supported and may cause content to load incorrectly. A Mac utilizing OS X: Firefox is also acceptable.
  • Communication Skills
    • Students need a good command of the English language. The ability to read and write well is important because much of online learning is print based, and student assessments are often based on written assignments.
  • Self Motivation
    • Most students have many other responsibilities, such as family and work, so a strong motivation to complete each course is essential.
  • Self Discipline
    • Online learning is very independent and flexible, which makes it easy to put off class work until the last minute. Procrastination can be a significant problem. Self-discipline is required to stay current on assignments and complete class work in a timely manner.
  • Independence
    • While there are opportunities to work with other students, the majority of class work will be completed independently. There usually is no face-to-face contact with faculty or other students. When students have questions, they must take the initiative to communicate with their instructor.
  • Patience
    • Feedback may – or may not – be immediate in online learning. It takes time for instructors to respond to questions and grade assignments, so patience is required. On the other hand, online quizzes may grade automatically, notifying students of their scores and explaining the correct answers immediately after submitting.
  • Time
    • Online courses require as much time as – and often more than – classroom courses. On average, an online course requires 6 to 10 hours per week. However, shorter (more intense) summer courses may require more.
  • Flexibility
    • Online learning provides students with the flexibility to create their own schedules. Course materials are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. This allows students to tailor their schedules to their responsibilities and personality (i.e. late night vs. early morning person).
  • Support
    • The MPH program works hard to support our public health students. Instructors want students to succeed and will work with them to ensure they do. Additionally, program staff are available to assist and offer advice, as needed.
How can I succeed in an online course?

Whether you are new to the online learning world or a seasoned pro, some evidence-based strategies for success in the MPH online program are provided. References and links are included throughout the document for further learning.

  • Access
    • Make sure that you have the right technology (e.g., hardware, software, internet connectivity) to complete assignments.
    • Practice navigating in the online course environment. Spend some time just navigating your way through the class files and folders to make sure that you can access desired course menus and materials (5).
    • Download or print out pages for reference and review away from the computer (5).
  • Time Management
    • An online class requires an average of 6-10 hours per week and more during the summer.
    • Determine the best time for you to study and complete assignments. Schedule times in which to read, complete assignments, and post dialogue to other classmates.
    • Be sure to find a private place to study which is free from distractions (1, 3, 4).
  • Communication
    • Interaction and discussion with classmates and instructors still occurs in online learning through reading and responding to classmates’ introductions, facilitated course discussions, and engaging in ongoing dialogue about issues. Just as in face-to-face learning, we expect that you will learn from and provide insights to your peers.
    • Start by posting your own introduction—as the first step in building your online learning community.
    • Participate. Whether you are working alone, or in a group, contribute your ideas, perspectives and comments (2).
    • Log on to your course each day to, at least, check discussions and course updates/ announcements.
    • Be polite and respectful. Remember that you are dealing with real people online. Being polite and respectful is obligatory for a productive and supportive online environment (2).
  • Trouble Shooting and Other Tips
    • Ask for help early. Remember that your instructor wants you to succeed.
    • Be patient. As much as your instructor will try to be prompt in answering questions, please do not expect instantaneous responses to your queries. Learn how to set break points in your study so that you can return exactly to that point when your question is answered. Be patient with yourself as well—give the material a chance to soak in (5).
    • If you have problems accessing your courses in D2L, contact Further questions may be directed to the MPH Program at (414) 955-4510.
  • Additional Reading/Resources on Strategies for Effective and Efficient Online Learning:
    • Arkansas State University. Study tips for online learning. Retrieved 6.11.12.
    • Illinois Online Network. Tips for online success. Retrieved 8.19.08.
    • Purdue University. (2008). Tips to enhance your online learning experience. Retrieved 8.19.08.
    • Roper, A. (2007). How students develop online learning skills. EDUCASE Quarterly. 30. Retrieved 8.19.08.
    • Texas A & M University. Tips for taking online courses. Retrieved 8.19.08.