Setting Up

Mon-Fri 11:00-5:00 | Sat 12:00-4:00 — Chapman Learning Commons Online Assistants are trained peers ready to help answer your questions about academic support and UBC learning technologies (such as Canvas, Zoom, and more).

A few steps can help set you up for success in online learning. Spending time on these early can really pay off later, when deadlines are looming.

Set Up A Study Space | Prep Your Tech | Know Your Resources | Understand Academic Integrity | Ask for Academic Accommodations

Set Up A Study Space

Creating a dedicated study space can help you focus and improve your productivity, even if it’s just a corner of a room or spot at a kitchen table. It also separates when you should mentally be at school versus at home, an important distinction when everyone is mostly at home these days!

Make a personal classroom

  • Pick a spot for studying and try to make coursework the main or only thing you do there. This spot could be a separate room or a specific part of a smaller space, such as a desk in a dorm room. Ideally, it’s quiet and distraction-free; if not, try headphones to block out noise.
  • Create a setup that you can comfortably sit or stand at for a few hours. Use the UBC ergonomics guide for working from home to make practical adjustments using common household items like books, pillows, and cutting boards.
  • Let friends, family members, or classmates know when you will be “going to class” in this space, to create accountability for yourself. If you share your home with other people, ask for their help in supporting a calm environment and giving you privacy during study times.
  • Silence unnecessary notifications on your devices to increase your focus when you’re in this space. If you’re not using it for coursework, consider turning your phone off.
  • Use apps to make studying easier. To minimize procrastinating, install browser apps that block or limit time on websites you know distract you. To reduce eye strain, use device settings like “Night Light” / “Night Shift” or download a blue light filter. To improve focus, try a white noise app or one that mimics nature or coffee shop sounds.

Tip #1:
Add inspiration to your space. Place an item or image nearby that makes you smile or reminds you of your long-term goals. Have special snacks or music playlists you only use for studying.

Tip #2:
Choose a cue to help you mentally transition into your space, such as making a cup of coffee/tea or doing a stretching routine.

Tip #3:
You can also book study space at UBCV » or look for space in The Commons at UBCO.

The Chapman Learning Commons has more ways of developing great habits for studying remotely » and UBC Recreation has additional practical and motivating suggestions for studying at home »

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Prep Your Tech

Transitioning to online learning during this time can bring unique challenges, like having to share a wireless connection with the whole household, share a computer, or use your phone or tablet instead of a laptop. Try to meet the following requirements as best you can.

Meet technical requirements

  • Computer: A desktop or laptop computer will be easier to complete your work on than a mobile device or tablet, which leave less screen real estate for viewing and interacting with your courses.
  • Audio: Many computers come with a built-in speaker and microphone. But you may want to use a headset with a microphone for the best audio experience.
  • Video: If your computer does not have a built-in camera, it’s best to get a webcam you can attach. You can still participate in web-conferencing lectures and meetings without one, but proctored exams will require it.
  • Web Browser: Different technologies have different requirements regarding which browsers they work with. As a starting point, install the latest version of at least one of these browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari.
  • Software: All active UBC students can download Microsoft Office 365 software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook) for free. Other teaching and learning software is available through the same link, including Camtasia for video editing, Snagit for screen captures, and VideoScribe for animations.
  • File Storage: If you are short on computer storage, you can use Microsoft OneDrive to store up to 1TB of files securely online that can be accessed from any connected device.

Tip #1:
Protect yourself online by following the 5 ways to keep cybersafe » from the UBC Privacy Matters website and using recommended antivirus software »

Tip #2:
If you need to upgrade, take a look at the technology discounts for UBC students » on laptops, internet plans, and more.

For the tech-savvy, UBC IT recommends a computer with a minimum: Intel i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 processor, 4GB memory, 128GB drive, and Windows 10 or Mac 10.13 operating system. Check with your program, too, as they may have more recommendations.

Connect to the Internet

  • Wired or Wireless: It’s best to use a wired or wireless Internet connection, if you can. Many courses deliver content in a variety of multimedia formats, including video streaming for lectures, so the higher the speed, the better. Generally, a minimum 5.0 Mbps download and 1.0 Mbps upload speed will handle most UBC learning technologies.
  • Mobile Hotspots: If you are in cellular range and have a data plan for your phone, you may be able to use your phone to provide Internet access to your computer. Read about using mobile hotspots for Apple or using mobile hotspots for Android, and check with your phone provider to understand how this use may impact data and billing.

Internet connection speed can be improved by closing the number of applications and browser windows or tabs you have open and turning off any video sharing.

ResNet » Internet connections in all UBC student residences exceed the speed recommendations.

Get help with access

  • If you have technical questions about UBC learning technologies:
  • If you have financial barriers to accessing online classes and exams:
    • For UBC Vancouver, contact a UBCV Enrolment Services Advisor. Together, you can review what resources are available based on your individual situation. Call 604 822 9836 or toll-free 1 877 272 1422.
    • For UBC Okanagan, contact UBCO Student Services. Call 250 807 9100 or toll-free 1 866 596 0767.

If you have issues accessing learning technologies from your location, one option may be to use the UBC VPN (Virtual Private Network) » or, if you’re connecting from China, the new Alibaba Global Accelerator » may help with connectivity.

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Know Your Resources

UBC Library and the Chapman Learning Commons are among the valuable campus resources you can access online when working through your courses. Many high-quality open educational resources are available, too. Use them!

Access UBC Library services online

Search for anything

You can access licensed electronic resources (items not available to the public at large) such as ebooks, journal articles, databases, and multimedia with your CWL.

  1. Go to the UBC Vancouver Library home page or UBC Okanagan Library home page.
  2. Type in the search box.
  3. The first time you click a link to a licensed resource from the search results, you will be prompted for your CWL.
  4. If you experience issues logging in or accessing resources, visit the connecting to Library resources help page.

Get real-time Library help

You can chat live with a library staff member most weekday working hours and some weekends during the term. For UBC Okanagan, use the “Ask Your Librarian” form. For UBC Vancouver, follow the instructions below.

  1. Go to the UBC Library website and click the Ask Us orange button on the top right.
  2. When the service is open, a chat box will appear. Type your question there.

Find course reserves

You can access licensed resources that have been reserved for your courses using the Library Online Course Reserves (LOCR). In most courses, you will access LOCR from Canvas. See UBC’s LOCR student guide for more information.

Tip #1:
You can renew materials online through your Library Account » but if you are unable to renew, don’t worry! The Library has cancelled late fees until the current COVID-19 situation changes.

Tip #2:
To get the most out of Library services, check out the UBC Library Skills Tutorial »

If you don’t already know, your CWL (Campus-Wide Login) is the UBC username and password you use to log in to most online campus services.

Bookmark UBC resources for learning

For writing help, check out the UBC Vancouver Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication » or for UBCO, check out the Student Learning Hub »

The main UBC website » will always have the latest official university communication regarding emergencies, including the current COVID-19 situation.

Visit open education resources

Many resources available to the public at large can assist with your studies, especially when you can’t come to campus for in-person help.

  • General resource sites like the Khan Academy have hundreds of educational videos covering many subjects, with an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
  • Interactive simulations such as Phet Science Simulations host interactive physics and chemistry simulations.
  • Open courses on platforms like Open Learn, edX, and Coursera offer free online courses.

Tip #1:
Find more high-quality, vetted open resources using Open Education Resource Repositories (OERR). UBC Library has a list of good OERRs » to get you started.

Tip #2:
Explore more open online resources » compiled by the UBCO Student Learning Hub for help with writing, math, and science.

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Understand Academic Integrity

Academic integrity means being an honest and responsible scholar by recognizing and crediting when the work you do incorporates work others have done, whether indirectly or directly (e.g., quotes). It is just as important in online courses as in face-to-face ones, since you have the world at your fingertips for the entire term!

Get familiar with online integrity pledges

  • In online courses, you may be asked to take an integrity pledge. This pledge is a reminder to continue being an honest and responsible member of the UBC community, even with the extra tools and resources you have access to online. By agreeing, you promise your work will honestly reflect your learning and not anyone else’s, which is really in everyone’s best interest!
  • Read the example language, so you are prepared to take this agreement seriously:

Tip #1:
A key part of academic integrity is keeping track of references. Access a tool called Refworks » for free from UBC Library. This citation management program lets you download, store, and share references, and format bibliographies.

Tip #2:
UBCO students can book an appointment with the Student Learning Hub » to discuss academic integrity concerns and properly integrating sources.

Go deeper on this subject with the Chapman Learning Commons Understand Academic Integrity toolkit »

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Ask for Academic Accommodations

UBC is committed to ensuring an accessible learning environment in which all students can meet the essential requirements of their courses, including in an online format. Accommodations are available if you have a disability or on-going medical condition which impacts your access to activities.

Request assistance

  • The UBC Vancouver Centre for Accessibility works to create accessible, inclusive, and welcoming environments for learning, living, and working. The Centre fosters the full and self-directed participation of students with disabilities in all facets of university life.
  • The UBC Okanagan Disability Resource Centre offers programs and services to foster an accessible and welcoming campus. The Centre provides access to accommodations for students to overcome disability-related challenges that impede academic success.

Types of available support may include materials in alternative formats, captioning or sign-language interpretation of content, access to assistive technology, or suitable exam arrangements.

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Get support

  • Academic – Reach academic advisors, accessibility advisors & tutoring options
  • Financial – Connect with Enrolment Services advisors
  • Technology – Contact UBC IT and other software vendors
  • Wellness – Find counselling services, medical appointments & sexual violence support

Mon-Fri 11:00-5:00 | Sat 12:00-4:00 — Chapman Learning Commons Online Assistants are trained peers ready to help answer your questions about academic support and UBC learning technologies (such as Canvas, Zoom, and more). Ask questions live or by email.


Online Learning Tips