Learning Remotely

Frequently Asked Questions

Please check back frequently for the latest FAQs and updated guidance. Consult with your individual program’s leadership or Dean of Students 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.
  • 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. 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 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.

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 Winter 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 in a variety of modes: in person on campus, blended, and remote at their regularly scheduled times (CST); for more information please refer to the University Registrar’s Office. All College courses will be remote during the first week of the quarter. The schedules for remote and blended courses will vary, please refer to guidance in your syllabus for more guidance or speak with your instructors about their expectations and plans. Instructors teaching completely remote courses for Winter 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.

How will the course shopping period work in 2020-21?

The College is requesting that all instructors teaching College courses publish their Canvas courses and post their syllabus on their Canvas Syllabus page during the first week of classes. All students will be able to access these syllabi (though only registered students will have access to the other parts of the Canvas course site) and may add classes until 11:59pm on the Friday of the first week. Please note that instructors continue to have discretion about whether to participate in the add/drop period and the information they post on their syllabi for students. Academic units serving graduate students are offering add/drop periods based on the needs of their unit or program. Registration guidelines for graduate and professional students may differ by Division or School. Please contact your Department Chair, Program Director, or Dean’s Office with any additional questions about add/drop periods in your program.

All students who would like to shop a course, whether in person or remote, will need to obtain the instructor’s permission before attending a class, either remotely or in person. Remote students must email the instructor to obtain a Zoom link. Students interested in attending an in-person class will need to obtain the permission of the instructor by email prior to visiting the class, and upon approval, will need to follow any additional directions or protocols provided by the instructor. Any student who shows up to an in-person course without prior permission of the instructor will not be allowed access to the classroom.

First Weeks of Classes: Academic Year 2020-21

  • Fall Quarter: September 29 – October 2, 2020
  • Winter Quarter: January 11 – 15, 2021
  • Spring Quarter: March 29 – April 2, 2020

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 instructors 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.

Students that have been exposed to or who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact  UChicago Student Wellness immediately to be tested, reach out to their instructors directly and shift to remote. Any student who is severely ill and unable to attend or complete their work remotely, should contact their area Dean of Students and make arrangements. Students should remain remote until:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and;
  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery- defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).

Also, please see regular Updates on Coronavirus and Student Health and Wellness Resources and consult additional information available at UChicago Forward. You may also reach out for counseling services at UChicago Student Wellness.

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 and the Seminary Co-op will ship course books; the Seminary Co-op is also offering local delivery on coursebooks. The CCSS Lending Library will be open in a limited capacity only for first-year Odyssey Scholars on campus or in Chicago. Textbooks will be made available through a contactless process on campus after incoming students have completed their mandatory quarantine period.

The bookstacks at the UChicago Libraries will remain closed but the collections can be accessed through the Paging & Pickup and Scan & Deliver services. Online collections are available through the catalog and librarians are available for assistance and consultation. For more information about accessing library resources remotely, visit their guide for remote access and the assistance provided on the Learning Resources page. 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.

Even if I am remote, will I have the opportunity to study or meet with instructors or peers on campus?

Some instructors may offer in-person office hours, which would require both instructors and students to wear face coverings and maintain appropriate physical distance.

Students taking remote classes are welcome to study on campus in designated spaces as long as they are following the rules of the UChicago Health Pact:

  • They may use outdoor spaces to meet up with instructors and peers.
  • Campus libraries will be open for students to reserve study spaces.

However, students may not:

  • Congregate in common areas of buildings like lobbies or hallways due to capacity and physical distancing guidelines.
  • Utilize unreserved spaces like classrooms for meetings or gatherings

Should the City of Chicago issue a new stay-at-home order, University buildings will be closed and accessible by appointment, only to those with keycard access.