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FAQs for Online Learning

The School of Continuing Studies offers both Online and Self-Study (Distance PDF) courses as an alternative to traditional classroom learning. These courses allow you to take charge of your own learning experience and adapt your studies to a busy schedule.

Whether you study Online or in Distance PDF format, both your Instructor and the textbook(s) used in your course reflect the same high standard as those for in-class courses.

Except for a course whose final assessment is project-based, all our Self-Study (Distance PDF) courses are supported by proctored exams scheduled and taking place in a location near you where you live.

Registration Questions

  1. When will I receive my course access information to Blackboard?
  2. How does Online learning differ from Self-Study Distance learning programs?
  3. What kinds of tools and resources will be available as part of my online program?
  4. What are the advantages of taking an online course?
  5. How do I enrol in an online course?

Technical Questions

  1. What is Blackboard?
  2. What does my computer need in order to use Blackboard?
  3. Do I need to install new software to take an online course?
  4. How do I ask for help?
  5. How do I Activate my UTORid?
  6. How do I reset my forgotten UTORid Password?
  7. How do I check my Utoronto Email Account?

Technical Requirements

  1. What is Blackboard Collaborate (Live Webinar)?
  2. Blackboard Collaborate First Time Users
  3. Blackboard Collaborate Technical Requirements

General Questions

  1. Will it ever be necessary for me to come to the School for classes?
  2. Will I learn as much from my online courses as I would in a traditional classroom?
  3. Can I start my course at any time or are there specific dates for the sessions?
  4. When are my assignments due?
  5. How long does it take to get my assignments back?
  6. Is it necessary to do the assignments?
  7. Do I need to go online at any particular time?
  8. What support can I expect from my instructor?
  9. How and where do I write exams?
  10. How do I register to write my exam?
  11. If I can’t write the exam on the scheduled date, what are my options?
  12. How many online courses can I take at one time?
  13. Are all SCS courses offered through Online Learning?
  14. Are textbooks required for online courses?

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Answers for Registration Questions

  1. When will I receive my course access information to Blackboard?
    Access information will be emailed to you approximately three days before your course start date. If you registered 3 days or fewer before the course start date or after the course started, your course access information will be emailed to you within three business days.
  2. How does Online learning differ from Self-Study Distance learning programs?

    Online and Hybrid Courses


    Elements common to online and hybrid courses:

    • The U of T online host server called “Blackboard” is used to deliver online courses.
    • Registered students are emailed with log-in access (username, password) to Blackboard.
    • When students log-in, they will be brought to a home page that will have several features available to them, in accordance with the requirements of the course.
    • Learning material and administration documents are posted including notes, assignments and any reference material that the instructor would like them to view.
    • There is an administration feature where students can apply for examinations, view instructions and any other administrative items that they should be aware of.
    • Students may also be invited to join discussion groups or interactive forums.
    • Links to other sites may be posted if the instructor thinks they are necessary.
    • Students submit assignments online.
    • Instructors post marked assignments/results online as well.
    • Students are allowed to email instructors with questions, but assignments cannot be submitted by email.
    • Instructors may choose to administer mid-term examinations online, but final examinations take place in proctored examination centres.

    Elements unique to hybrid courses:

    • In a hybrid course, some of your modules are delivered in a traditional physical classroom while other modules are delivered online.
    • Typically the in-class sessions are scheduled at the beginning, middle and end of the semester. For example, you might attend the first one or two modules in a classroom and then study three or four modules online returning to a classroom session for a mid-term exam or assignment presentations. Then you would study online for several more weeks and return for the final one or two modules in the course. You might write a final exam or do a major group presentation in these final classroom weeks.

    The primary difference between Online/Hybrid and Self-Study (Distance PDF) is the level of interactivity between the instructor and the students, and also among classmates. For instance, discussion groups allow students to post questions that can be debated between classmates; a very useful tool not available to our distance students

    At SCS, Online and Hybrid learning make use of a range of interactive audio-visual materials and activities, including audio-supported PowerPoint presentations, bulletin boards, threaded discussions with your colleagues and instructor, and opportunities to put your assignments and projects online. Your learning experience is enhanced by a wide range of audio-visual and Internet resources that make it easy for you to select the best learning support tools for your personal style of learning. Consult with the School’s Student Services (learn@utoronto.ca) team to learn more about the type of online learning is provided with the course you’re interested in taking.

    Self-Study (Distance PDF) Courses


    • Assignments are in PDF format, and are posted on the U of T online host server called “Blackboard”.
    • Registered students are emailed with log-in access (username, password) to Blackboard.
    • When students log-in, they will see categories for Course Notes, Course Assignments, and Examination Application (I believe there is also a link to instructions).
    • Clicking on these categories will open up PDF documents that they can view or print.
    • Students submit assignments by email directly to instructors.
    • Instructors return marked assignments to students by email.
    • Examinations take place in proctored examination centres.

    Replacing paper delivery of this course with PDF documents and email communication has proven to be a faster and more efficient way of delivering a distance course. Students may still work at their own pace, and marked assignments are returned much more quickly than ever before.

    Blackboard is only used to post the PDF documents; interactive tools such as discussion groups, posted forums, etc, are not available in this format.

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  3. What kinds of tools and resources will be available as part of my online program?
    Your SCS online course is led by an experienced educator/facilitator who is an expert in his/her field and who has been specially trained in the use of e-learning teaching techniques and tools, including webinars, PowerPoint presentations with voice narrations, simulations, online textbook resources, and threaded discussion strategies.
  4. What are the advantages of taking an online course?
    There are several:


    • You can ask questions without having to wait until you come to class and you can expect more individualized answers.
    • You can search online for internet resources instantly using the live links in your class materials.
    • You can work on your course at your own speed and whenever you want to, even on your breaks and lunch hours. This greatly increases your productivity.
    • There are no travel costs because you can literally attend anywhere that you can go online.
    • You have direct, personal access to your instructor via e-mail and can share your ideas in a threaded discussion.

  5. How do I enrol in an online course?
    The procedures for enrolling into an online course are the same as for enrolling into any of the School’s other courses. Please visit our How to Register page.

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Answers for Technical Questions

  1. What is Blackboard?
    SCS uses the Blackboard learning management system for all of our online courses. Many in-class instructors also use this system to enhance their students’ learning experience.
  2. What does my computer need in order to use Blackboard?
    These desktop browsers work best with Blackboard Learn 9.1 Service Pack (SP) 14.
    • Firefox 24® and later
    • ChromeTM 30 and later
    • Safari® 6 and later
    • Internet Explorer® 9 and later
    For up-to-dated operating systems and web browsers supported by Blackboard, please visit //kb.blackboard.com/x/1IIQAw. You can verify your internet speed free at www.speedtest.net.
  3. Do I need to install new software to take an online course?Your online courses may ask you to preview audiovisual materials with programs such as Windows Media Player, Acrobat Reader, RealPlayer, VLC Media Player, and Adobe Flash. These are free and when you are enrolled in an online course, you will be given instructions on how to download the latest version of these programs, as well as how to add any others that may be required later.
  4. How do I ask for help?
    If you have difficulty in accessing your online course, submitting your assignments, accessing your course materials, or emailing your instructor, please call 416-978-3880 or email elearning@utoronto.ca.
  5. How do I Activate my UTORid?
    After obtaining your UTORid information, take note of the “Secret Activation Key” field. If there is something in there (a set of characters), you need to activate your UTORid.

    1. Open a web browser (i.e., Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, etc.)
    2. Go to: https://www.utorid.utoronto.ca/
    3. Click the Activate Button

    Please follow the instructions closely. During the activation process, you will be asked to setup a U of T email account, as well as your UTORid password. Make sure that you follow the instructions and go through the entire process. The last screen should say “Your activation request has been accepted…“.

    If your “Secret Activation Key is Blank” that means you have been issued that UTORid previously. Please use the UTORid and the password you chose when you first activated it to access Blackboard.

  6. How do I reset my forgotten UTORid Password
    If you have forgotten your password, there are two ways to reset your password:Visit any of the help desk locations (St. George, Mississauga or Scarborough) with a valid government issued Photo Identification and the Blackboard access letter you received from elearning@utoronto.ca.If you had set up the account recovery tool when you activated your UTORid, you can call the help desk directly and they will set you with a new password.University of Toronto’s help desk locations and hours of operations:


    St. George Campus
    Information Commons Help Desk
    Robarts Library,1st Floor 130 St. George Street
    (416) 978-HELP (4357)
    help.desk@utoronto.ca

    Monday — Friday Saturday Sunday
    Walk-in 9:30 AM — 7:00 PM 11:00 AM — 2:00 PM Closed
    Telephone 8:30 AM — 9:00 PM 11:00 AM — 3:00 PM 1:00 PM — 5:00 PM

    Missassauga Campus (UTM)
    CCT Building, Level 3 #3133
    905-828-5344
    905-569-4343
    helpdesk.utm@utoronto.ca

    Monday — Friday Saturday Sunday
    9:00 AM — 5:00 PM Closed Closed

    Scarborough (UTSC)
    416-287-7391
    student-helpdesk@utsc.utoronto.ca

    Monday — Friday Saturday Sunday
    BV487 9:00 AM — 10:00 PM 9:00 AM — 6:00 PM 9:00 AM — 6:00 PM
    Library 9:00 AM — 10:00 PM 12:00 AM — 6:00 PM 12:00 AM — 6:00 PM
    IC35 9:00 AM — 10:00 PM Closed Closed

  7. How do I check my Utoronto Email Account
    To access your Utoronto email account follow the below instructions:

    1. Open a web browser (i.e., Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, etc.)
    2. Go to: https://webmail.utoronto.ca
    3. You will be taken to the Weblogin Page
    4. Type your UTORid and your password and click Log in
    5. You may be prompted to perform maintenance: after either performing or skipping the maintenance it will take you to your UTORmail inbox.

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Answers for Technical Requirements

  1. What is Blackboard Collaborate (Live Webinar)?
    Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing is a live webinar software used by some instructors to facilitate classes, presentations and discussion groups in a real time learning environment. This tool is not used by all courses, please consult your course outline.If you have never participated in a Blackboard Collaborate session before, please view the below video and follow the steps listed in “First Time Users”Blackboard Collaborate Web Conference online orientation
  2. What does my computer need in order to use Blackboard?Please follow the steps below for successful participation in the live webinar:Step 1: Do you have the supported Operating System and version of Java installed for Blackboard Collaborate?Step 2: Enter a configuration room and test your connection, settings, and configure your audio

    Step 3: Please have a working and connected microphone and speakers (USB headset is best) to ensure full participation.

  3. Blackboard Collaborate Technical Requirements
    All students must have a computer with a high speed Internet connection and:

    • Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8 with IE, Firefox, or Chrome.
      Mac OS 10.6 or higher with Safari or Firefox.
    • Java 1.6 or 1.7
    • 2-way video-conferencing capability (i.e. a webcam, microphone, and speakers), to allow participation in virtual chat during the web conference

Answers for General Questions

  1. Will it ever be necessary for me to come to the School for classes?
    All aspects of your online course can be done in a “virtual” environment and can be augmented with e-mail, regular mail, telephone or fax, so except for writing your final exam, you won’t have to travel to take part in your course.
  2. Will I learn as much from my online courses as I would in a traditional classroom?
    All our online courses feature the same high level of instruction. In fact, many of our students take online courses along with an in-class course in order to complete their certificate faster. Whichever learning format you select, your course will continue to be supported by a proctored, standardized in-class exam and an exemplary university-level textbook and by experienced instructors. Online courses offer greatly enriched multimedia components and increased opportunities for interaction with both the instructor and online colleagues. Often your questions are answered more quickly, in greater depth and with more relevance than in a regular classroom.
  3. Can I start my course at any time or are there specific dates for the sessions?
    Like In-Class course, Online courses begin on specific dates at the beginning of the semester. Start dates are listed in the calendar as well as on our website. Alternatively, you may call 416-978-2400 or email us at learn@utoronto.ca.
  4. When are my assignments due?
    For the courses in PDF format, the assignment due dates are shown in the Student Information Booklet.
    For the online courses, the course online/syllabus will usually show the due dates. Please check the due dates with your instructor if you have any uncertainty about them.
  5. How long does it take to get my assignments back?
    Allow for a two-week turnaround for each assignment.
  6. Is it necessary to do the assignments?
    Generally, assignments and/or final projects are worth between 20% and 50% of your final grade, depending on the course. If you do not submit your assignments, the marks assigned to them will be deducted from your final grade. For courses in the Languages and Translation area, all assignments and the final project must be submitted to obtain a passing grade. Late assignments may be accepted at the discretion of the instructor and/or the Program Area.
  7. Do I need to go online at any particular time?
    Depending on the course, occasionally you may be asked to take part in webinars or chats that are held at specific times, but in general you can study whenever it is convenient.

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  8. What support can I expect from my instructor?
    In all cases, your instructor will provide guidance and support by email. In addition, feedback will accompany each marked assignment. For online classes supported by Blackboard and Epsilen, your instructor may also choose to post instructions and comments in the course announcements section, and on the course discussion board.
  9. How and where do I write exams?
    Final examinations, where applicable, are conducted at locally situated, proctored exam centres. Exam can be scheduled almost anywhere in the world. See the Course Information link for sites.  Exams are held in the morning and the afternoon. If you are taking two courses, your exams will be staggered – one after the other. If you are taking more than two, contact the School to make special arrangements.There is a supplementary charge of $125 for students outside Canada and the U.S.
  10. How do I register to write my exam?
    Complete the examination form included in the Course Information Link and submit it by the deadline stated on the form.  We will acknowledge your request within two weeks of receiving it, and a reminder with information about the exam location will be sent to you two weeks prior to the exam date.
  11. If I can’t write the exam on the scheduled date, what are my options?
    If you are unable to write a scheduled exam for any reason, you may apply to write an alternate exam. The fee for this service is $150.00 and the application form is found here or call 416-978-2400 and we will mail one.Please note that if you fail a final exam, you are not eligible to write an alternate. You’ll have to take the course again.
  12. How many online courses can I take at one time?
    Online learning can be very demanding and requires a considerable time commitment. If you are willing to make this kind of a commitment, you may take more than one course at a time in Business and Professional Studies. Taking more than two or three online courses at a time is not generally advised. The online Translation courses must be taken one at a time, in sequence.
  13. Are all SCS courses offered through Online Learning?
    Only the courses listed in the Online Learning section of our webpage are offered online.
  14. Are textbooks required for online courses?
    Textbooks are required for all courses unless otherwise stated. These are not included in the course fee and can be purchased separately online at www.uoftbookstore.com or by telephoning 416-640-5840 or 1-888-662-6368 approximately two weeks before your course starts. Provide your course number and section to make sure you get the correct edition of the textbook. Home delivery is available for a small fee.

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