Online Learning  /  Resources & FAQs

Resources & FAQs


The resources below assemble in one place the answers to questions about online learning and connect you to the many people on campus whose programs are designed to provide assistance. Some of you may have most, if not all, of this information. For those who do not, we hope this is helpful. If you still have questions, please send them to


CTLO provides the guidance below for students who miss coursework due to illness:
(Read more about related practices and procedures here.)

  • When illness requires you to miss class meetings or causes you to fall behind in assigned coursework, reach out directly to your professor by email to explain your situation. Try to communicate with your instructors as soon as you are well enough to do so. Familiarize yourself with any policies relevant to your situation in the syllabus and make requests that align with that guidance. It will be up to your instructor to make decisions about how to respond to your requests.
    • Information to share when emailing an instructor: inform your instructor that you are dealing with illness; explain what you have missed and/or expect to miss; ask for specific kinds of support that would allow you to continue to succeed in the course. For example, if you would like an extension on a project that has several deadlines, explain which of the deadlines you would like to extend and for how long.
    • Information you can keep private: your exact medical diagnosis and symptoms
  • Keep your professor(s) updated as your situation evolves. Students encounter challenges when they go for long periods without attending class or communicating with instructors. Your professors can only support you when they understand the challenges you face.
  • The period after an illness can be very stressful as you work to catch up on missed work. Draw on Caltech's network of support if you find this stress difficult to manage. 
  • If you start to become concerned you cannot complete the required work for a course because of illness, reach out to a dean for support in navigating your situation. The longer you wait to seek help and guidance, the more difficult it may be to navigate the situation.
  • An E or I grade can be a useful way to make up work that was missed due to illness. However, if you cannot complete an extension before the start of the next term, the challenges of a previous term can have continuing, negative effects on future terms. Extensions are not advisable when a student has been behind on work for a large portion of a term. Work with your advisor and the deans to make sure your choices set you up for future success and avoid the possibility of becoming academically ineligible

Students facing challenges with internet accessibility related to financial need are encouraged to contact the Deans' office:, 626.395.6351.

Every course has a Canvas Course Site one which, at a minimum, a syllabus and links and instructions to online resources are available. Canvas sites that have been published by the instructors are open to students one week before the term begins.

Regardless of whether you are in class or working remotely, you remain members of the Caltech community. It is still the case that "No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community." Students should be thoughtful and deliberate as they adjust their work habits and collaborative practices to an online learning environment. Review course collaboration policies carefully, and consult a course instructor or TA if you have questions or concerns.

Remote course sessions occur at their scheduled time although many faculty are creating content that can be viewed asynchronously. Check the Canvas course site for more details.

Zoom is a video conferencing platform that will allow you to join the class. Once you receive a Zoom invitation, click on the link and follow the instructions to join the meeting. Select one of the audio options ("Phone Call" or "Computer Audio") and be sure to test the speaker and microphone. The phone numbers are listed in the Zoom invitation and when selecting "Phone Call." You can also join a zoom meeting by using a meeting ID. Go to; Select join; Enter the Meeting ID you were given to join.

See this helpful link from Humboldt State University for tips about how to use Zoom. Especially useful is the section, "Preparing for a Zoom Meeting."

Basic Zoom licenses are limited to meetings of 40-minutes if meetings are more than two people. Students who want to collaborate with more than one other person for longer, should try using Google Hangouts/Meet and Microsoft Teams. These platforms support larger and longer collaborations.

The IMSS website provides How To tutorials and support for Zoom. Students can also contact the IMSS Help Desk for a variety of technical computer support services. The phone number for the IMSS Help Desk is 626.395.3500.

The Committee on Reconstituting On-Campus Instruction, with input from Academic Media Technologies, Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach, Export Compliance Office, International Offices, and Office of the General Counsel, provides these guidelines <Caltech credentials required> for students outside the United States on accessing content and associated risks, a travel advisory, and resources.


These offices and programs are continuing their work with you now and through the spring term:

  • The Caltech Center for Diversity is available via phone/email/and zoom. Educational programs and virtual group sessions will be offered daily starting March 30, 2020.
  • The Hixon Writing Center will provide one-to-one support to students. All appointments in spring term will be synchronous, online meetings in Zoom. If you cannot attend a synchronous appointment due to your location or technical issues, please email us at to discuss support. Appointments can be made through the "Writing Center Scheduling" link under Academic Services in Access.
  • Deans tutors (peer tutors) will continue to be available.
  • Caltech Accessibility Services for Students continues to work with students on accommodations and accessibility.
  • Student Wellness Services is offering Counseling and Occupational Therapy support via telephone and the after-hours service. Telephone crisis consultation is available after business hours on weekdays, weekends, and holidays by calling the Counseling Services main line at (626) 395-8331 and pressing "2" when prompted. Further information can be found at and
  • The Caltech Library's wide range of digital resources--eBooks and journals, databases and online help--continue to be fully available and have been enhanced with the addition of many new resources. Digital Course Reserves are available through Moodle, or your instructor, and include many course textbooks. Library guides and reference consultations continue to be available online and through email. DocuServe, our ILL and document delivery service, continues to be available in digital formats only.


Learning online may be a new endeavor. Here are some resources that offer friendly tips and strategies for being an online learner:

  • Rice University has a presentation in which they present some tips for learning during disruption, which includes some strategies for keeping engaged and healthy while learning remotely.
  • Northeastern University gives 8 strategies for getting the most out of an online class.
  • Humboldt State University has a student guide for using Zoom. Students should be encouraged to use their own Zoom accounts to actively collaborate with each other outside of class. Students can also use whiteboard software on their own tablets / iPads and have their tablet also 'join' the Zoom meeting, such that they can easily share screens with each other while collaborating.

Please find more information for Caltech students at Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for Students and Parents and at Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs.