Education at UBC is undergoing unprecedented change. You, your instructors, and peers are all figuring out how to teach and learn in a fully online environment. This transition comes with natural challenges and means your learning may not look or feel like what you expect.
Know that you are not alone in navigating these changes. UBC is an exceptional community doing all we can to support one another. The Keep Learning website compiles resources to help you set up, learn effectively online, understand the technologies used at UBC, take care of yourself, answer questions, and get support in this new context. You can also share what your online learning experience has been like, so this resource can improve.
Together we can and will overcome the challenges. Be well and keep learning.
Quick Tips for Preparing to Learn Online
- Know that you can learn well online. Distance education is a well established and effective way to take university courses all over the world. While it offers new challenges, online learning also has benefits, like increased flexibility in your weekly schedule, working at your own pace, and less waiting for the 99 B-Line bus.
- That said, you’re allowed to feel disappointed. Although it’s a difficult time around the world, if fully online learning was not the experience you signed up for, let yourself off the hook for feeling upset.
- Find ways of separating home and school, so you can still “go to class”. Set up a designated study space (even if it’s just a corner of a room) and schedule specific hours you’ll work there. Try to focus only or mostly on coursework during those times.
- Ask for backup in being accountable. Staying on top of coursework can be hard when you’re away from instructors and peers. Don’t assume you need to do it alone. Tell friends, family members, or classmates how you plan to get things done so they can help hold you to your plans.
- Be patient with yourself as you adapt to online learning. Technology offers many advantages but also occasional setbacks, like figuring out how new applications work or troubleshooting technical issues. Everything may take a little longer, especially in the beginning.
- Use the support offered by the university. Bookmark UBC online resources, meet with your instructors during virtual office hours, form online study groups with peers, and take advantage of counselling services, academic and financial advisors, or disability accommodations, if you need them.
- Be kind online. Always remember there is a person behind the words you read on screen. Use people’s preferred names (being mindful of spelling and pronunciation), try not to assume what pronouns they use, communicate politely, and talk over video when you can. Seeing faces goes a long way toward keeping everyone engaged and connected.
- Take care of yourself. Being a student is one important part of your identity, but there’s much more to you that needs attention too. Set aside time for socializing online, laughing, and relaxing offline. Eat well, get outside for walks, and wash your hands.
- Trust that the situation is temporary. If fully online learning is not for you, know that it will end. Everyone will be able to resume all the in-person things they miss, like studying together, participating in great lectures, and walking to classes across a bustling, beautiful campus.
- Have confidence in yourself. University is about learning and growing, and now is a chance to show yourself just how responsible, focused, and motivated you can be. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t ready to rise to the challenge. You’ve got this.
Getting Started with Online Courses
Each online course at UBC may look different, even within the same faculty, school, or department. These differences are because your instructors are using the best tools for teaching in their specific classes. No matter how online courses are presented, focusing on these areas will help you get the most out of the experience.
What you can do to succeed
- Read course communications: Your course syllabus, announcements, and emails are extra important online, where instructors have fewer ways of communicating changes or reminders. Take time to read (not scan) them.
- Manage your time: Some courses will meet in real time online, some won’t, and others will use a combination. Create a calendar with important dates, instructor office hours, and times you’ll “attend” live and recorded lectures for each course, to fairly distribute your attention.
- Actively participate: Your learning will benefit from active participation in courses. Ask questions in discussion boards, post resources you find helpful, and comment when classmates share work.
- Take it one step at a time: Research has shown that multi-tasking is generally not effective in learning. If you tend to multi-task, try to focus on one task at a time instead of dividing your attention among multiple things at once.
- Avoid procrastinating: Using applications to hand in work sometimes gets complicated. Try not to put things off until the last minute, because that minute might be spent solving technical issues!
- Make it personal: Connections can be harder to make without seeing people face-to-face. But be personable online by adding profile pictures, introducing yourself, and logging in regularly to share support with peers.
- Ask for help: Fully online learning can be overwhelming when it’s new. Your instructors, teaching assistants, and technical support all expect you to have questions, and they want to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Expect different approaches for how instructors will communicate, share content, encourage interaction, receive assignments, and give exams in online courses. If any expectations are unclear, ask! We’re all in this together.
Many instructors at UBC use Canvas » for online courses. In Canvas, you can complete most or all of your course activities.