About Online Learning

When you take an online course with UBC Extended Learning, you benefit from a university-level curriculum designed and developed by UBC online educators, instructional designers and subject matter experts. Regardless of the online course or program you choose, you are not learning alone – you complete your studies with fellow students and the support of your online educators.

Your online curriculum, which may consist of videos, lectures, case studies, discussion forums, practice tests, resource lists, research papers and other materials, is delivered through open and innovative online learning management systems such as Canvas or Zoom. The learning management system supports interactive learning activities and up-to-date content in a secure learning environment that you access through your browser.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is online learning like?

Learning online can be a rewarding and challenging experience. Different from traditional “independent study,” you will become part of an online community of learners in one subject. You might participate in scheduled real-time online discussion and feedback, independent online and offline learning activities, or collaborate with others on group assignments.

In your online course, you may see an orientation workshop in your course list. The workshop is not led by an instructor. Instead, you can browse through various modules at your own pace, selecting those which meet your learning needs.

If you haven’t tried an online course yet, UBC offers this student’s guide to Canvas, the online learning management system used by the University. Also available are a list of helpful Canvas resources and Canvas frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Will I have an instructor or an online resource person who will provide support throughout my course?

Yes. Online educators deliver our online courses from start to finish. Different programs may have different names for their online educators depending on the role they fulfill within their course: online instructors, online tutors, online facilitators, instructional assistants or mentors.

Whatever their title, they are professionals experienced in online adult education who are responsible for instruction or guidance, and are there to support you in completing your assignments and projects.

How will I communicate with online educators?

Depending on your online course, you may communicate in a variety of ways, including email, online discussion or chat sessions, as well as occasional phone calls.

Do I need to be online at a scheduled time?

Usually, your online coursework can take place at any time of day or night. You can choose the study times that work best for you since the learning management system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For courses with assignments and projects, you will receive advance notice of due dates so you can plan your study times accordingly.

Depending on the program, some courses have specific online components that require you to log in at particular times.

How am I graded?

Some online courses and programs may be graded. Please check with the program staff responsible for your course for information on whether it includes grading. If it does, your coursework may be evaluated by a number of assessment tools, including assignments, projects, or exams with scheduled due dates.

When can I start my online course?

Each online course has a specific start and end date. Before or on the day your online course starts, we will send you an email message providing you with a link to access the online course. Instructions for how to access your course will be sent before it starts. Typically, access to content for online courses is no longer available two weeks after the course end date.

What is Canvas?

Canvas is a learning management system that UBC uses to deliver courses. The system provides information on orientation, schedules, grades and instructor contact details, as well as learning resources and overviews of course curriculum.

If you are having problems logging into Canvas, please contact us.

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

The typical number of coursework hours expected of students 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. And as with any course, the more time you can dedicate to course discussions, readings, assignments and practice, the more you will advance your skills and gain from the course.

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

No, all students pay the same tuition fee.

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

Some courses require additional materials outside of the online content, such as a textbook. Any materials required will be outlined in the course description.

Do I need to purchase books for my course?

Some online courses require you to purchase books or supplementary materials. This will be noted in the course description.

If I am interested in distance/online learning for undergraduate and graduate credits programs at UBC, where would I find information?

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

What is Zoom? Is it secure?

Zoom is 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 instructor will present material and lead activities, and you will be able to engage similar 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 prevent security concerns such as “Zoom bombing.”