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Remote Programs FAQ

Remote Learning

What will my online course be like? What sorts of things will we do in class?

Online courses have a mixture of synchronous (meaning everyone does the same activity at the same time) and asynchronous (meaning students do activities on their own schedule, by a certain due date) activities. Synchronous activities will feel much like the traditional classroom activities you are used to -- lectures (although some of these may be pre-recorded, so you can watch them whenever you like), discussions, hands-on projects -- with the only difference being that you will engage with your instructor and fellow students online, via Zoom. Asynchronous activities will involve the sorts of things you might have done as homework, such as problem sets, taking notes on readings, and writing papers, but will also include activities that take advantage of online course delivery such as contributing your thoughts to discussion boards or class blogs, making videos or curating virtual exhibits, and performing simulated experiments on virtual subjects or materials. Whatever it is you are doing from day to day, your instructor and TA will work to ensure that students remain engaged with the subject matter and with each other throughout the course.

How long will I be “in class” each day? How much homework will I have ?

Students in Summer Online will be in class on Monday through Friday from 6pm - 8pm CST. Students should expect at least 2-3 hours of homework and asynchronous activities in addition to the required synchronous sessions. Students in Summer College will typically be in class for around 10 hours per week, and should expect several hours of homework each day.  

How can I best prepare for success in my online course?

You’ll find the same traits that help you succeed in traditional, face-to-face classes will stand you in good stead online: be organized, disciplined, and always up for a challenge. Summer Session staff will make available a number of detailed resources to help guide students to success as you make the transition to learning remotely at UChicago this summer. Starting in early June, you will have access to training in the use of Zoom and Canvas. Once classes start, you can attend virtual workshops on topics such as how to use library resources online, optimal study skills for college, and tackling undergraduate-level reading and writing assignments. Community Mentors and Teaching Assistants will provide additional support and reach out to students who may need additional assistance with managing their time, meeting academic expectations, or mastering course content.  

The University has also launched the Learning Remotely site, which we highly suggest that you take some time to review before classes begin. In particular, the Getting Started page is very useful and contains information like what internet connection speed you’ll need to be able to participate in online classes and how to improve your internet connection. Spending time on this website before your class begins will help you start on the right foot in your class.

Participation will be a part of your grade in every remotely taught course, and will be determined by factors such as your contributions to online discussion boards, projects, and other activities, as well as your dedication to engaging the course material and completing your assignments. Instructors and TAs understand that students might encounter connectivity issues or other problems that prevent them from participating in a particular synchronous class session on Zoom, and would not count something beyond your control against you

How will we turn in assignments? How will quizzes, tests, and exams be given?

You can upload all sorts of files -- documents, videos, presentations, and more -- to Canvas to submit them, and you’ll be able to get your grades and other feedback on your work the same way. Quizzes, tests, and exams will be administered online via Canvas. Students can even upload handwritten work, such as the scratch paper where they work out math problems, to Canvas at the conclusion of a test. Your instructor and TA will guide you on how to do this, and it will be covered in the Canvas training as well.

What training have instructors had that will help them successfully conduct their courses online?

Offices across the University have worked hard to make sure that instructors have training and support related to both the technological and pedagogical elements of translating an in-person course to an online environment. That work includes:

  • The University launched a Teaching Remotely website with resources for instructors and TAs that is updated almost daily with a variety of useful resources.
  • Academic Technology Services, the Center for Teaching, and individual academic divisions and departments have created online trainings for instructional staff on the use of Zoom, Canvas, Panopto; transitioning an in-person class to a remote instruction model; subject-area specific trainings on how to reach particular curricular goals effectively, such as teaching writing, running a virtual biology lab, leading online discussions, building online community, and many others. Summer Session staff have attended and contributed to many of these sessions, and will have additional workshops with instructors and TAs for Pre-College courses to address their particular pedagogical needs. 

This is not a comprehensive list, but we hope it gives you an idea of the seriousness with which we are approaching our obligation to provide students with an effective learning experience during Summer Session.

What platform(s) will be used to deliver Summer Session remote courses?

UChicago Summer Session courses will be supported by a suite of platforms.

  • Canvas is the official LMS (learning management system) already in use for instructors across campus to manage individual courses. Canvas provides access to the course syllabus, links to online resources, assignments, discussion boards, and other essential teaching tools.

  • Zoom (Enterprise) is the official video conferencing platform, which allows for real-time interactions among instructors, teaching assistants, and students. All instructor-led class sessions on Zoom will be recorded, so that a student who misses the session may view it later on their own schedule. Students may also use Zoom to engage with each other on assignments and group projects.

  • Other online tools such as Microsoft Teams and Google’s G-Suite may be used by instructors depending on the course’s specific curricular needs, but all will be required to fulfill the privacy requirements articulated at

I will be living outside the US while taking my course. Will I be able to access all required systems from where I am?

All platforms that support Summer Session remote teaching are web- or cloud-based, and so can be accessed by anyone with a reliable internet connection. We recommend that students use the computer audio, rather than a separate call-in phone number, when joining real-time meetings. Separate call-in local numbers will be made available to individual students as needed on request.

What is Summer Session doing to accommodate students who are in different time zones or who have other possible barriers to synchronous online classes like internet connectivity issues?

Courses will combine synchronous and asynchronous instruction in order to maximize flexibility and accessibility of course content for students. For Summer Online, students are expected to attend all the synchronous classes from 6:00pm – 8:00pm CT.  Some real-time sessions will be recorded so that if a student misses the session for any reason, they may watch the recording and catch up right away. Other class meetings such as discussion sections with TAs or office hours with instructors will be scheduled at times that work for students. Group projects may be assigned to students living in the same or close time zones, to help coordinate work with local schedules.

As a parent, may I listen in on or record my child’s class?

Only enrolled students are allowed to participate in class sessions. Parents are not allowed to listen in on or attend Summer Session classes, as this could disrupt the running of a class for the instructor or participants, and would violate the privacy of the students attending the course. 

To protect student privacy as well as the intellectual property rules governing course curricula, neither students nor parents are allowed to record class sessions. Students may view recordings of their classes within the course’s Canvas site as intended by the instructor, but may not download or share any recordings. 

Parents who have questions or concerns about their child’s academic experience should contact

Online Community & Support

Will there be a program Orientation?

Parents and students will be able to participate in virtual orientation sessions, to learn more about the support that Summer Session staff provides.  Look for more information by email before the start of your class(es).

In addition to the faculty members and teaching assistants who will support students academically, what other resources can Summer Session students access?

In addition to in-class support staff and resources, Summer Session students can utilize our student staff members, the Community Mentors, who provide additional support and mentoring outside the virtual classroom.

What will I do outside of my online class, including nights and weekends?

The Community Mentor staff plans and leads activities for students to get to know each other, the campus and the city of Chicago. Students can pick and choose from a variety of pre-scheduled virtual events to suit a wide range of interests.  Events may include virtual campus and city tours, museum outings, trivia and other contests, and much more. All events are planned and led by the Community Mentor staff, and may be tailored to the needs or requests of Summer Session students.

What is the role of the Community Mentors?

Community Mentors are current or recently-graduated UChicago students who provide an additional level of support and guidance to Summer Session students.  Community Mentors share resources to help students navigate their classes, connect with other Summer Session students, and learn more about the UChicago campus, culture and experience. 

What kind of activities will Community Mentors lead?

Community Mentors will provide many different virtual community-building activities for Summer Session students.  As current or recent UChicago students, they will share their personal insights and experiences with the Summer Session community, providing multiple examples of a “Day in the Life” at UChicago.  Virtual programs and events will include academic resources (study skills, time management, connecting with faculty), campus resources (virtual tours, choosing a future major) and social events including video community meetings, contests, games and other fun activities.

What are the Community Mentors like?

Community Mentors are current students with a variety of backgrounds, interests and areas of study.  Each Community Mentor is ready to share resources with students to ensure that UChicago Summer Session provides the best academic and social experience possible.  

What is the schedule and availability of Community Mentors for students?

Community Mentors provide support to Summer Session students outside of class hours. Activities will usually be pre-scheduled, and meetings with individual students will be scheduled based on the Mentor and student’s availability. To role model healthy sleep and self-care, Community Mentors will refrain from late-night virtual activities, and will not be available 24/7 for student contact.

What online safety resources are available?

As cited in the Policy Handbook in “Community Standards”, UChicago Summer Session works to ensure that all students are supported throughout their academic experience.  If an incident occurs where a Summer Session student experiences targeting or harassment, Community Mentors will document the incident for the Summer Session professional staff and the Dean of Students office, and can intervene between students in multiple ways.  If the behavior continues or the situation is not immediately revolved, the incident will be referred for a disciplinary response. The Community Mentor staff will follow up on any report of concerning or inappropriate online interactions.