Prepare for Class

Being prepared for the start of class is essential in online courses where technical issues can prevent you from participating and cause you to fall behind. Identifying and fixing technical problems ahead of time can help you get off to a good start. There are a number of basic technical tasks that should be mastered by all students before their online class begins. There are also some course-specific tasks that may or may not apply to you. Your instructor will inform you of course-specific tasks that need to be completed prior to the start date.

Once you have finished the basics, you may want to complete some of the course-specific tasks listed under Learn More. Not all courses use these tools, but they are common enough that we listed them here for your convenience. Consult your online course information (e.g., in D2L) and contact your instructor for additional instructions related to course-specific tools.

The Basics

All students taking online courses should be able to accomplish the basic 

tasks below from off campus. Practice each task at least once before 

your online course begins.

Your instructors and others on campus will correspond with you using your WSU email address (e.g., so check this mailbox regularly. You can access it online at If you have trouble, contact the Technical Support Center (507-457-5240 Option #1; You can also use Microsoft Outlook and other email clients to access your campus mail.

Learn more...

Most instructors use D2L (Desire2Learn) Brightspace to support their online courses. You access D2L online at Login using your StarID and password. When activated by your instructor, your courses will be listed as links under the My Winona State University Courses header on the D2L homepage. Select a course name to access that course's homepage. If you have any trouble accessing D2L or do not see your courses listed, contact the Technical Support Center (507-457-5240 #1; Depending on your preferred browser, there may be some additional steps required to optimize D2L course performance. 

View our D2L for students page on the WSU Technology Knowledge Base for more information. 

Most reference databases available through the WSU Darrell W. Krueger Library are accessible from off campus. Selecting a database brings up the Authentication Login Form. Enter your campus username and password or the 14-digit barcode number on the back of your WSU ID card and your last name as the password. Try accessing Academic Search Premier to make sure you can login to this database from off campus. If you need any assistance, please contact the Library.

When off campus, students must establish a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to access some WSU network resources (e.g., your personal network storage, campus-licensed Adobe Photoshop). The Cisco VPN software is already installed on WSU-leased laptops. You will need to install this software if using a personally-owned computer. Practice establishing a VPN connection from an off campus location and accessing your personal network storage. A VPN connection is not required to check your campus mail via the Web, to login to D2L, or to use most Kruger Library reference databases. Please review which applications and activities require a VPN connection and which do not. If you have trouble, contact the Technical Support Center (507-457-5240 Option #1; 

Learn more... 

All WSU students are provided a secure, personal network storage space on a campus server. This network storage space can be accessed from off campus and is a great place to keep backup copies of important assignments and other irreplaceable course-related files. You must establish a VPN connection to campus first, before you can access your personal network storage. Once you have a VPN connection, follow the instructions for accessing your network storage on a Mac or PC. Note that the instructions will differ for WSU-leased laptops and personally-owned computers. If you have trouble, contact the Technical Support Center (507-457-5240 Option #1; 

Learn more...