Learning Remotely

Frequently Asked Questions

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.
  • Tools: Most courses will use Zoom for audio and video conferencing and Canvas for course materials for remote learning. Log-in 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 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. 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. 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.

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 you have a concern regarding privacy or appearing on video, please reach out to your instructor directly.

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.

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.

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.