The Online Student Experience

Being an online student allows you to continue to meet your work and family commitments while earning your degree. Every course has a syllabus that lays out the expectations for the semester ahead, so you’ll always know what’s coming up and when you’ll need to carve out extra time. Courses provide a mix of video lectures, reading, and discussion boards that allow you to interact with the material, your faculty member, and fellow students. 

Program modality refers to where and how you will participate in the courses in your degree program. When a program is designated as Online, none of the required courses will require you to come to campus. In addition to online programs, there are a couple other terms for program modality that you might encounter. HyFlex programs include classes that allow you the choice between meeting in person or participating remotely through live online streaming. Blended have a mix of some on-campus and some online requirements. Note that in all of these program modalities, while many classes are delivered asynchronously, meaning you engage with the course material online at your own schedule, you may have some classes that require you to attended class via Zoom at scheduled meeting times.


BrightSpace by D2L is the software platform you will use to participate in your courses online. Based on the requirements of the course (as outlined in the syllabus), you may be accessing BrightSpace daily or weekly to read course materials, watch online lectures, participate in online discussion boards, and/or complete assignments, quizzes, and tests. Your professor may also use BrightSpace to post announcements and send emails to the class as a whole with reminders about assignments, as well as new and relevant current events. To learn more, check out the Student’s Guide to Brightspace video playlist.

Technical Requirements:

D2L is committed to performing key application testing on new browsers. Due to the frequency of some browser releases, D2L cannot guarantee that each browser version will perform as expected. If you encounter problems with any of the browser versions listed below, contact D2L support, who will give you the best course of action for a resolution. Reported issues are prioritized by supported browsers and then maintenance browsers.

‍Supported browsers are the latest or most recent browser versions that are tested against new D2L products. Customers can report problems and receive support for issues with supported browsers. For an optimal experience, D2L recommends using supported browsers with D2L products. You can access Brightspace Learning Environment with retro or legacy browsers (specific older versions of supported browsers); however, D2L does not test Brightspace Learning Environment against these older versions. This means you may encounter unexpected user interface behavior and appearance, or broken and unsupported functionality. In most cases, D2L does not provide technical support or fix software defects experienced in retro and legacy browsers.D2L does not provide technical support for unsupported browsers.

‍Note the following: Ensure that your browser has JavaScript and Cookies enabled.

Supported Desktop Computer Browsers: Brightspace Learning Environment is supported on the following desktop platforms with the latest browser versions: Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox

SupportedTablet & Mobile Devices Browsers: Brightspace Learning Environment is supported on the following tablets and mobile devices with the latest browser versions: Apple Safari, Google Chrome


Synchronous class sessions and one-on-one meetings with faculty, staff, or classmates typically happen over Zoom. Everyone at the University of Maine System has a Pro Zoom license, which allows unlimited meeting duration. Additionally, your Zoom account will be integrated with our Kaltura online video platform, allowing you to save recording meeting directly to your Katlura account to review and share.

Learn more about using Zoom at USM.

Learn more about Kaltura.

Google Workspace (formerly G Suite)

All USM students get a Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) account, including a designated email, unlimited storage in Google Drive, and more.

Learn more about Google Workspace.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is available for free to all USM students! Current students can access programs such as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint remotely via a web browser with their USM log-in, or download programs to use locally on their personal computers.

Learn more about student access to Microsoft 365.

Whether right out of high school, an adult learner, a part-time student, or a fully-online student, there are opportunities for finding your community at USM. Some examples of ways to get connected with faculty, staff, and peers include:

… and more!

All the support that is available to on-campus students is also available to you online or over the phone. This includes technical support, advising, writing and tutoring support, and more. In addition, your instructor may hold weekly virtual office hours for you to seek help with the course material. Please click here for a list of online student resources.

What do our students say about USM Online?