About Online Learning

UBC Extended Learning has been offering courses online for more than 20 years. We offer our online courses in a variety of formats to suit your schedule and provide the best learning outcomes. Please read the course or program description for details on the learning format.

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

Learning Formats

Online courses are taught using one of these formats Please check your course description for more details.

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.

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.

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 provides feedback on assignments and projects, and assists with your progress in a moderated discussion forum.

Instructor 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.

Blended courses offer a mix of in-person, instructor-facilitated classes combined with online modules facilitated by course moderators that might include readings, videos, exercises and discussion posts.

Online, Self-Paced Live Online Lectures Online, Instructor Supported Online, Instructor Supported with Real-time Classes Blended (Classroom + Online)
Specific start and end dates X
Cohort (start and end with the same group of students) X
Real-time class meetings X X
Access to an instructor X X
Assignment deadlines X X
Instructor-graded assignments with feedback X X
Auto-graded assignments X X X

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What happens after I register for an online course?

After you register for a course, and on or before the course start date, we send you an email with instructions on how to access and log in to your course. We recommend logging in prior to the first class session. If you are having any problems with your login, please contact us.

When can I start my online course?

Most online courses have a specific start and end date. Before or on the day your online course starts, we send you an email with a link to your course. Typically, access to course content is no longer available two weeks after the course end date.

Who teaches online courses

Different courses and programs may use different names for online educators. For example, your course might be taught or supported by an instructor, tutor, facilitator, teaching assistant or mentor.

These professionals play different roles that can include designing the course and creating the materials, teaching by recorded or live lectures, marking assignments and tests, monitoring discussion forums, speaking as a guest, and mentoring students.

Can I contact my instructor during the course? Will I get to see them?

Depending on the course format, your instructor may be available for one-on-one or group communication, including email, online discussion forums or chat sessions, virtual office hours, occasional phone calls or live question and answer sessions during class. Some courses offer live lectures, while others feature videos recorded by the instructor. Please see your course or program description for information.

How am I graded?

Some online courses and programs are graded, either by the instructor or using auto-graded tests and quizzes.

Your coursework may be evaluated in a number of ways, including assignments, discussions, projects, quizzes or exams with scheduled due dates. Please read the course or program description, or check with program staff for information on if and how you’re assessed, and what you require to pass the course.

How many hours per week do I need to set aside for coursework?

How much time you spend each week varies by course and program, and is outlined in the course or program description. You should expect to be online at least every other day in most courses.

As with any course, the more time you can dedicate to your course, the more you’ll get out of it! When you set aside time for homework, discussions, readings, assignments and practice, the more you deepen your knowledge and advance your skills.

Besides the course or program tuition fees, are there any other fees that I need to pay?

Some courses require additional materials, such as a textbook or software. You’ll find these details in the course or program description.

Is there a difference in fees for international students taking an online course or program?

No, all students pay the same tuition fee which are published in Canadian dollars.

When I log in to my course, which websites or applications am I using?

UBC Extended Learning courses are hosted on one of three learning management systems (LMS): Canvas, Catalog or Learn.ExL. All are intuitive and student-friendly, and widely used by universities, colleges, government and organizations to host and deliver courses.

When you register for an online course, we send you an email on or before the day your courses starts with information on logging in to the LMS, and a link to your course. Once you’re logged in, you’ll be able to see the courses you’re enrolled in on a dashboard.

UBC offers a student’s guide to Canvas, a list of helpful Canvas resources and Canvas frequently asked questions (FAQ).

If you’re have any questions or problems creating or signing in to your course, please contact us, or call us at +1 604 822 1444 Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm Pacific Time.

How are live lectures delivered?

We use Zoom, a video/audio web conferencing and collaboration tool that lets you participate online in real-time lectures or other classroom interactions in your course.

Your educator will present material and lead activities, and you will be able to engage similarly to how you would for an in-person class.

Zoom is easy to use, and you don’t need an account to participate in lectures and courses. However, you will need to download and install the Zoom application. Read the Student Guide to Zoom at UBC for detailed instructions and tips.

UBC holds an enterprise licence to host Zoom meetings and has measures in place to ensure lectures and public sessions are secure. Faculty and staff also follow best practices to mitigate any security risks.

Where can I find more information on distance/online learning for undergraduate and graduate credits programs at UBC?

UBC Distance Learning provides information on credit and non-credit courses and programs available at UBC.