How online courses work

UBC Extended Learning has been offering courses online for more than 20 years. Our online courses are offered in a variety of formats to suit your schedule and provide the best learning outcomes. Details on the online learning format can be found in the course or program description.

You access your course through a learning management system, or LMS: Canvas, Canvas Catalog or Learn.ExL. When you register for a course, you’ll receive instructions on setting up an account and accessing your course before your course starts.

Online course formats

Self-paced courses are typically completed on your own time and at your own pace. Access course materials anytime, and complete work independently. Some courses include moderated peer discussion forums. You can enrol and instantly access your course, which remains open for an extended period.

Live online lectures offer real-time lectures in a virtual classroom on scheduled dates and times. Courses may include additional resources such as readings and audiovisual materials.

Instructor or facilitator supported courses have start and end dates, and you progress through the course with a group of classmates. Course modules are released on specific days (e.g. every Monday), and assignment due dates are specified. Your course may include office hours with an instructor, or it may be fully asynchronous with facilitators supporting engagement in the online discussion forum. Your facilitator provides feedback on assignments and some courses may also include auto grading.

Instructor supported with real-time classes include live, scheduled classes facilitated by an instructor. Courses have specified start and end dates, and you progress through the course with a group of classmates. Your instructor grades and/or provides feedback on assignments and projects, and assists with your progress in a moderated discussion forum.

Blended courses offer a hybrid of in-person, instructor-facilitated classes combined with moderated online modules or online real-time classes. Modules might include readings, videos, exercises or discussion posts.

 Online, Self-PacedLive Online LecturesOnline, Instructor or Facilitator SupportedOnline, Instructor Supported with Real-time ClassesBlended (Classroom + Online)
Specific start and end datesX
Cohort (start and end with the same group of students)X
Real-time class meetingsXX
Access to an instructor or facilitatorX
Assignment deadlinesXX
Instructor-graded assignments with feedbackXX
Auto-graded assignmentsXVaries by courseVaries by course


How can we help?

We’re here to answer your questions, discuss learning options and provide insights, recommendations and referrals.  

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