Learning Remotely

Frequently Asked Questions

As the COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly, please check back frequently for the latest FAQs and updated guidance.
Consult with your individual program’s leadership for unit-specific guidelines.

In addition to the FAQs available here, please note these important resources for students:

 

What tools and software do I need for remote learning?

  • Computer: It is recommended that students have a laptop or desktop computer with one of the following operating systems: Windows 10 and newer; Mac OSX 10.12 and newer; Linux; or chromeOS to access classes online. A tablet or smartphone can also be used with Canvas, but may be more difficult to download some file types or submit certain types of assignments. Mobile devices may not provide full functionality desirable for attending classes online. Both Canvas and Zoom have mobile applications that you may want to download in advance.
  • Audio and Video: A webcam and microphone are ideal for remote learning with Zoom. (Most laptops, tablets and cell phones have a camera and microphone built in.) More information can be found on the Web Conferencing website about hardware for learning with Zoom.
    Internet Connectivity: A reliable Internet connection is needed for University of Chicago remote learning. Many Internet Service Providers are making consumer-friendly changes in response to COVID-19.
  • Tools: Most Spring Quarter courses will use Zoom for audio and video conferencing and Canvas for course materials for remote learning. Ensure that you login to both before the start of the quarter to verify access and connectivity.
  • Apps: Download Canvas for iOS or Canvas for Android and Zoom apps for your computer and mobile devices before the quarter begins.
  • Browser: You should have at least two web browsers installed on your computer. Any browser will work, though preferred browsers are Firefox and Chrome, which can be downloaded for free online. Web browsers should be updated to the latest version available for the operating system of the device.
  • Keep your device secure: Install antivirus software on your device. Many popular, free or low-cost options are available, including University-supported Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP). Ensure that your device has a screen timeout or lock if left unused.

How do I get started with the Zoom and Canvas platforms?

Please see the resources available on the Getting Started page. Zoom is a video-conferencing application that is similar to Skype or FaceTime but allows for many more participants and has a variety of features that make it well suited for a remote learning environment. Please note that each student must log in and claim their Zoom account before the start of their Spring Quarter 2020 classes.

To claim your UChicago Zoom account please read the Zoom Conferencing for Students Guide or see the Zoom for Students section. Zoom Video Conferencing Tutorials are also available to help you prepare for remote learning.

Panopto is the University’s video management platform. It is a tool for recording, organizing, embedding, and live streaming video. If an instructor is using Panopto in a course, more information is available online for how to Use Panopto in Canvas as a Student.

What devices can I use with Zoom, Canvas, and Panopto?

Zoom, Canvas and Panopto can be used on computers, tablets, and mobile devices. All three tools also have mobile apps, which can be downloaded through the Google Play and Apple App Stores. Please note that mobile devices may not provide full functionality desirable for attending classes online.

How does a student join a Zoom class meeting?

Students registered for a course will receive a message in their Canvas Inbox with the Zoom link when meetings are scheduled. Students can also login to their Canvas course site and click on the Zoom navigation item. There will be a “Join” button for each of the scheduled class meetings under the “Upcoming Meetings” tab. Click the “Join” button to launch Zoom and join the meeting. Note: Students may be required to login to Zoom with CNetID and password to join the class meeting.

Who can I contact for tech support?

If you typically contact your school or division IT staff for support, please contact them for remote learning support. If you typically contact central IT Services, please do so via its.uchicago.edu/support. You may also complete a request for support by contacting us. Consult the Contact List for Local IT Support Units on Campus or the College Staff Directory for IT support information.

What is the University doing to address the issues in the media about Zoom security (e.g., unintended participants disrupting meetings and security of the Zoom tools)?

In response to Zoom conferencing incidents within our community and at  other higher education institutions, the University is taking additional steps to ensure a safe and productive online environment for instructors and students. Please see the related message from UChicago’s Chief Information Officer, Kevin Boyd.

Zoom has been updated for the University to enable additional security features. Instructors can now:

  • Require students to log in to Zoom to attend a class session. This blocks attendees from outside the University of Chicago and improves course security.
  • Remove attendees who are not supposed to be in the session.
  • Prevent meeting attendees from sharing their screens without permission.
  • Limit access to meeting recordings to members of the University community.

The IT Services web conferencing website includes a section on these and other security settings in Recommended Instructor Settings for Zoom Classes. The website also includes information on how to Manage Participants During a Zoom Meeting that will be helpful for instructors, teaching assistants, and others.

Will course sessions be recorded?

Instructors have the discretion to record course sessions, except when recording is required to meet the needs of students granted an accommodation by the Office of Student Disability Services. For more information, see the Academic Year 2020-2021 Recording Policy and the Academic Year 2020–2021 Recording Deletion Policy.

How can I access course session recordings?

To access course session recordings, please check the course’s Canvas site. You are encouraged to reach out to your instructor if you encounter any issues accessing or viewing course content.

What if I don’t consent to being recorded in a Zoom course session?

If an instructor clicks “Record” during a Zoom course session, students in the course will see a message that states, “This meeting is being recorded. By continuing to be in the meeting, you are consenting to be recorded.” You must select “Continue” to remain in the Zoom course session or select “Leave Meeting” if you don’t consent to being recorded. If you select “Leave Meeting,” you will not be able to participate synchronously in the course session.

If I am experiencing financial challenges related to technology (computer, internet access, etc.), what should I do?

For students who need financial support to update outdated technology that limits access to broadband or systems unable to support video and streaming capabilities, the University will provide assistance. College students with crucial technology needs should submit the Bursar’s Office Emergency Assistance Application through their MyUChicago portal (go to Finances-Account– Emergency Assistance Application). Students in the College may also reach out to the Center for College Student Success. Graduate students should contact their respective Deans of Students.

In addition, many Internet Service Providers are making consumer-friendly changes in response to COVID-19. Also, many companies are providing nationwide hotspots for customers. Students outside the United States should check their local providers for similar arrangements. More information about systems needed for online learning can be found in the Hardware and Connectivity section.
Students experiencing financial challenges not related to technology should also view the Emergency Assistance Programs offered by the Bursar’s Office, the Food Security support site, or contact their respective Deans of Students.

At what times will classes be offered in Spring Quarter 2020? If I am in an international location, will there be multiple class times offered for each course?

At present, classes are expected to be held online at their regularly scheduled times (CST). Instructors for Spring Quarter 2020 have been asked to consider recording lectures and providing other ways to engage with class material outside of scheduled class time given that students will be connecting from different time zones. Please feel free to request more information from your instructors about how they plan to teach and their expectations for students in the class.

How will the course shopping period work during Spring Quarter 2020?

The College is requesting that all Spring Quarter 2020 instructors teaching College courses publish their Canvas courses and post their syllabi on their Canvas Syllabus pages during week 1 of classes (April 6-13, 2020). Students may access these syllabi in Canvas, but you will not see the rest of the Canvas site unless you are registered for the course. For College courses, you may reference the syllabi to shop for classes until April 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Please note that instructors have discretion about whether to participate in shopping period and the information they post on their syllabi for students. Academic units serving graduate students are offering shopping periods based on the needs of their unit or program. Please contact course instructors with any specific questions about shopping their courses.

What are the grading options available to students for Spring Quarter 2020?

For Spring Quarter 2020, the following grading options are available to students in the College. Please note that these adjustments satisfy students’ diverse needs for the Spring Quarter only, and imply no precedent for future Departmental, School or College policies.

  • While the College will maintain its traditional policy requiring that general-education Core courses be taken for a quality grade, students may apply to take Core courses with a pass/fail option. All applications must be submitted to the Office of the Dean of Students in the College by Friday of Week 9. Students should contact their College adviser for additional details.
  • In keeping with the College’s traditional policy, students may request a pass/fail grade in all courses taken as Free Electives with the consent of the instructor.
  • For courses taken to fulfill the requirements of a Major or Minor, the College has requested that Departments, Schools, and Programs implement a pass/fail option, in force only for the spring of 2020. Students who wish to receive quality grades in their Majors and Minors may continue to do so. Students should inquire with their Departmental or Program offices about the details of these arrangements, and confirm all requests to take the pass/fail option by Friday of Week 9.

See the full spring quarter grading communication on the College’s Spring 2020 website. Additional detail on these grading options will be available in the coming weeks. In the meantime, students should contact their College adviser with questions.

For graduate students, grading policies are being determined by each school or division. Please contact your Department Chair, Program Director, or Dean of Students with further questions about grading.

How can I form or participate in study groups?

Student Zoom accounts enable students to hold online meetings with up to 300 other participants. You are welcome to schedule meetings outside of your class time and invite your classmates to join. You can learn more from the Zoom video tutorials available on this site.

How can I schedule office hours or connect with my instructors?

Instructors will choose their preferred method to schedule their online office hours and will communicate those to students as classes begin. This information should also be available on the class syllabus. Instructors may set up appointments for office hours through the Canvas Calendar (see student instructions for calendar appointments) or may also use the Bookings app in Office 365 to allow students to choose appointment times. Instructors using Bookings will need to publish their Bookings page link to their Canvas course. If you are unsure of how to schedule office hours for any of your classes, please ask your instructor during the first week of class. For others inquiries apart from office hours, you can contact your instructors by email or by the directions on the department, school, or program website.

Will enrollment caps on classes be removed now that courses are entirely online?

Most programs have discretion when making decisions about their classes and while room size caps are not relevant for online instruction, the style of the course, need for discussion, and time required for grading and office hours may impact an instructor’s ability to accommodate additional students. During the Add/Drop period, if you have questions about a particular class, and whether you can join, please contact the instructor directly.

What if I am sick or unable to complete a course for some reason?

Your health and safety are of the utmost importance, so please first seek any medical attention you need. If you are unable to complete a course for any reason, you should follow the same steps you would for an in-person course and notify your instructor and Academic Advisor, Program Director, or Dean of Students.

If you believe you have been in contact with someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, and you do begin to feel sick with fever or cough or have difficulty breathing:

  • Seek medical advice.
  • Call ahead before visiting a healthcare provider. Tell them about your symptoms.
  • We encourage any student who is not feeling well to contact the Student Health Service at 773-702-4156. In the case of a medical emergency, call 911.

Also, please see regular Updates on Coronavirus and Student Health and Wellness Resources. You may also reach out for counseling and additional resources for students.

Can students come to campus to attend class in person?

On March 30, 2020, Provost Ka Yee Lee wrote to the University community about restricted access to University facilities. Beginning on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at 5 p.m., all academic and administrative campus buildings moved to secure key card access, whereby only those individuals deemed essential personnel who must be on campus can access the facility. With further questions about classroom access, please contact your Department Chair, Program Director, or your unit’s Dean’s Office.

I usually depend on campus resources for course materials (e.g., library, bookstore, FLIbrary). How do I access these resources while away from campus?

The UChicago Bookstore will provide free shipping on books throughout the Spring Quarter 2020 and The Seminary Coop is also shipping books. If you are unable to afford your books or other course materials, please visit one of the financial resources mentioned at the top of these FAQs.

All UChicago Libraries will remain closed until further notice. Librarians will still be available remotely to pull digital resources for students. We ask that you make use of the University’s databases, and if you encounter difficulty finding a text for a course, please reach out to your instructor or teaching assistant.

How will my dissertation defense be conducted?

Departments and programs should work creatively to hold dissertation defenses remotely in accordance with their practices. They may ask candidates to distribute slides or handouts, where used, in advance.

Do I still have access to University support services?

Yes. The University is continuing to provide students with access to support services both for the students who remain in Hyde Park and for those who have left for other locations. Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), UChicago HELP, and the Dean-on-Call and Sexual Assault Dean-on-Call programs remain available to students. Outside of regular business hours, students can access the Therapist-on-Call at (773) 702-3625. To better accommodate those students who are outside of Chicago and those who would prefer to avoid in-person meetings due to public health concerns, the University offers telehealth options. You can learn about those and other efforts to maintain effective student support at UChicago’s Wellness Services.

Additional information about support services available for students can be found on the University’s Student Resources site.

How does remote learning impact financial aid and visa status?

The University has taken steps to ensure financial aid continues for eligible students. For the latest information from the Office of Financial Aid, see their COVID-19 FAQs and visit the Office of the Bursar website. For international students, please visit the Office of International Affairs FAQ’s on coronavirus and email your designated OIA advisor with questions and to schedule a virtual appointment.