The University of Iowa

New to online learning? No problem, check out this video for tips to succeed in an online course.

First Steps 

  1. Review the (latest) syllabus for any new information or changes. 
  2. Identify new/changed tasks and make sure you have access to the tools required to perform those tasks. For example, you may need to use Virtual Desktop to access an application you would normally access in a campus computer lab.
  3. Check your email or ICON course announcements regularly for updates and information from your instructor. 
  4. Modify your study plan to accommodate changes to your class schedule.  
  5. Review the information below and on other sections of this website for related information and resources. 

In general, what you need to learn in an online environment is not very different than in a classroom, especially since most face-to-face courses utilize online technologies for things like media, file sharing, assignment submission, etc. Here are some basic materials/tools used in online learning: 

Computer and Internet 

  • Computer System: Mac or PC capable of running at 2 Ghz or greater 
  • Internet Connection: Broadband internet connection supporting data rates of 3.0 Mbps or greater. To test your server speed, go to and run the Speed Test on your computer.  
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari. (Microsoft Internet Explorer is known to have compatibility issue with the Canvas system.) 
  • If you don't have internet or if it is too slow to work effectively, there are resources for internet options that are available. Drive-up wifi is also available for those who need high-speed internet access without having to enter buildings. 
  • If you have significant concerns about your ability to engage with online learning, please email


  • The university supports many technologies that can be useful in online learning.  
  • All University of Iowa students, faculty, and staff have access to Microsoft Office for free through Office 365. 
  • Virtual Desktop service provides remote access to many University-licensed Windows applications from anywhere without having to obtain and install the software on your own computer. 
  • University faculty, students and staff have free access to Zoom, a popular video conference software. Zoom can be used to conduct live classes online, collaborate on group projects, give live presentations, conduct small group (breakout) discussions, etc. Zoom can also be used to record video assignments.  
  • In addition to Zoom, students can also use Microsoft Skype for online calls, instant messaging, and video meetings.

Additional Resources

  • Visit the Tutor Iowa website for additional strategies to help successfully navigate virtual learning. Resources include new Success at Iowa modules, Academic Tips worksheets, and an Online Learning Guide, created in collaboration by Academic Support & Retention and Undergraduate Student Government.