Online Learning Protocol for York University Students

With an increasing emphasis on providing access to digital course material, and the move to all online courses necessitated by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for students to understand how to use online learning technology as well as how to make the best of use of it while protecting security and privacy for themselves and others.

York University has developed best practices and protocols to support you in your online learning success. Similar protocols have also been provided to York University staff and instructors.

Visit Students Getting Started for information about the range of services to experience innovative learning environments, collaboration and communication within and beyond the classroom.


In order to effectively utilize Zoom and other online learning platforms that allow you to listen to and participate in online classes and interact with instructors and classmates, you will need:

  • An internet connection.
  • A computer or mobile device with a camera and microphone.
  • A headset (either earphones or an earphones/microphone combination), while not required, may help you more effectively block out background noise.

When connecting from any non-secure network (e.g. public hotspots) or if you are having trouble accessing York services, we suggest using the VPN (Virtual Private network.) The VPN creates a secure link between your device and the York Network. Instructions for setting up VPN access are available on the How to Connect Securely web page.


All registered York students have access to a wide variety of free and discounted software for Windows and Mac computers, including web browsers, communication tools, productivity tools, statistical and analysis software, anti-virus software, document creation and collaboration software and entertainment.

Visit the Computing for Students UIT Software web page for details about all available free and discounted software from York and how to get it.


  • Schedule your virtual meetings in your favourite digital calendar and include the online meeting link.
  • Set a reminder 15 minutes before the start of virtual lectures or Zoom classes.
  • Set time aside to read emails and documents carefully to ensure that instructions and deadlines are clear.
  • Block off time in your calendar to complete tasks and set reminders for deadlines.
  • Schedule in break times so you don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Relieve stress and reset your focus by exercising regularly.
  • Make sure that your workspace is ergonomically optimized to prevent musculoskeletal injuries and eye strain. You can review some good ergonomic advice and tips on the Government of Ontario Computer Ergonomics page.


In addition to coursework, your instructor will provide tests and exams through an online platform.

Course instructors may enable Safe Exam Browser (SEB) for online tests and exams. SEB is a customized web browser that differs from online proctoring tools because activity is not monitored and no data is recorded.

These resources will help you understand and prepare for online tests and exams:


Online learning may include videoconferencing. Whatever platform your instructor uses for videoconferencing, there are some simple dos and don’ts that will make the experience a good one for you and other videoconferencing participants.

  • Do be courteous to other participants.
  • Do speak clearly.
  • Do keep body movements minimal.
  • Do move and gesture slowly and naturally.
  • Do maintain eye contact by looking into the camera.
  • Do dress appropriately.
  • Do make the session animated.
  • Do be yourself and have fun!
  • Don’t make distracting sounds.
  • Don't shout.
  • Don't make distracting movements.
  • Don't interrupt other speakers.
  • Don't carry on side conversations.
  • Don't wear "noisy" jewelry.
  • Don't cover the microphone.



Your primary platform for online courses is eClass (formerly Moodle for Keele students.) The course platform name changed from Moodle to eClass on September 1, 2020. eClass has all the same features as Moodle, with some enhancements including improved graphics, functionality, reliability, and an improved interface. Updates also include the ability to change your preferred name on eClass. Continuing students do not have to learn a new system.

eClass is a learning management system (LMS) that allows students to access course content online, participate in class discussion and engage in other learning activities. eClass is accessible to all York University students through your Passport York sign-in credentials at

eClass can be used from your desktop, and is also available as a Mobile App. Visit the eClass help web page for information on logging in and accessing your courses.

While using eClass for online learning, your instructor may enable progress tracking. This is a good way for you to keep track of your progress in a course. You can learn more about that here.

Check eClass regularly for course announcements and reminders. eClass is also your gateway to your Student Virtual Assistant, York’s newest tool to help you connect with resources for academic success, health & wellness, student life and career development.


As a York University student, you are eligible for a licensed Zoom account. Simply sign into York’s Zoom account with your Passport York credentials.

For more information about licensed Zoom accounts, online security and privacy, and how-to videos and resource guides, visit Zoom at YorkU.


To improve your meeting experience and that of the other participants in the meeting try to:

  • Find a quiet space, free from distractions, where possible.
  • Prepare and submit questions ahead of time. 
  • Be mindful of your background and ensure adequate lighting.
  • Think about your background when you are on Zoom video. Is it showing anything you would rather not have publicly visible, either in terms of the physical location or surrounding, or is there a chance that other family or household members may enter your video space when they don’t want to be on screen?
  • Did you know? Zoom has a few different backgrounds that you can use for your own profile, or you can upload your own image to use as a background. Want to attend classes while sitting on the beach? More information on how to do that is here.
  • Conduct and present yourself in the same manner you would if you were attending an in-person class.
  • Join the meeting with your microphone muted and webcam turned off, then turn them on, if you wish, when you’ve established your connection. If you do not wish to use video the entire meeting, consider using it at beginning to say hello to build connection, then close it. You can toggle your video on and off using the video icon in the toolbar at the bottom of your screen.
  • Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking so background noise from your location doesn’t disrupt other Zoom meeting participants. You can toggle your microphone on and off using the microphone icon in the toolbar at the bottom of your screen.
  • You could also use a headset microphone, if you have one available, to reduce echo and improve audio.
  • Try not to speak over other participants. Remember, you can also use chat or use the raise your hand option.
  • Be mindful of screen sharing. Ensure you close any open documents or windows prior to the online meeting to avoid accidentally sharing personal photos, email, unrelated or confidential information on your screen. 


Zoom follows the latest accessibility standards to ensure that the product is fully accessible by everyone. Accessibility features include:

  • Closed captioning. Zoom integrates with many third-party closed captioning providers.
  • Automatic Transcripts. If you instructor has recorded your meeting to the cloud, you can access the audio transcript feature to transcribe the audio, process a text file and enable searching.
  • Screen reader support. Zoom is accessible to the latest screen readers, so you can use Zoom without a screen.
  • Keyboard Accessibility. Zoom supports keyboard shortcuts for easy navigation of Zoom features.
  • Students registered with York’s Student Accessibility Services can access assistive technologies through the Assistive Technology Lab.

    More information is available on Zoom’s accessibility features webpage.

    More ways to connect with Zoom:

    • In addition to Zoom’s built-in accessibility features, you can also call in to and participate in a Zoom meeting by telephone. Your instructor can provide the call-in phone number with the meeting invitation.
    • If you want to participate in Zoom video meetings but don’t have the technology to do so, you can borrow a laptop from York. Visit the Off Campus Computing page for details.


    Many of your classes may be conducted through Zoom. Here’s what you should know about Zoom security and privacy:

    • You can log in to York’s Zoom account securely with your Passport York login credentials. Only your name and email address are stored by the Zoom @ York U service.
    • Your instructor has the ability to record a Zoom meeting. You will be alerted to active recording by an audible alert and a red record icon at the top left of your Zoom window.
    • Your instructor can also grant other meeting participants the ability to record a meeting.
    • Recordings may be saved to a personal device or to the cloud. Cloud servers are external to the York U network but can only be viewed by those who have received a meeting link from the instructor. Recorded files will only be available for download for 30 days, and only if your instructor has granted you permission to download.
    • Although it is helpful for social interaction, you are not required to have your camera on during most meetings. If you prefer you can either turn off video or replace it with a static image. You might also want to just turn on your video at the beginning of a meeting to say hi, and then turn it off for the duration of the meeting. Note that in some cases (e.g. proctored exams) video may be a requirement.
    • Zoom is hosted on servers in the U.S., including recordings done through Zoom.
    • If you have privacy concerns about your data, provide only your first name or nickname when you join a session.

    Recording Zoom meetings

    The Zoom platform is meant to facilitate online meetings to closely resemble the interactions that may occur in in-person meeting. As is the case with in-person meetings, audio or video recordings of the meetings are generally not advised for privacy reasons; recordings are also not advised for online meetings for the same reason. If a Zoom meeting is being recorded, the system is configured to automatically notify all participants that a session is being recorded. In other words, a session cannot be recorded without you knowing about it.

    When necessary, you can assign one meeting participant to take notes or minutes of your meeting in order to maintain a record of the meeting or to share with meeting participants. More information about Minute-Taking Tips and Techniques is available on York’s Information & Privacy Office website.

    If you are scheduling your own Zoom meeting:

    Perhaps you want to set up a Zoom meeting with classmates, to collaborate on work or hold a study session. Here’s some security settings you should use if you’re scheduling a Zoom meeting:

    • Require registration: This shows you every email address of everyone who signed up to join your meeting and can help you evaluate who is attending.
    • Use a random meeting ID: We recommend you generate a random meeting ID for your meeting, so it cannot be shared multiple times. This is the better alternative to using your Personal Meeting ID, which is not advised because it is basically an ongoing meeting that is always running.
    • Password-protect the meeting: Create a password and share with your meeting participants (preferably via York email) so only those you want to join can access your meeting.
    • Allow only authenticated users to join: Checking this box means only people who are signed into their Zoom account can access your meeting.
    • Disable join before host: This means that participants can’t join your meeting before you: if they try, they will see a pop-up message that says, “The meeting is waiting for the host to join”. Once you join, then you can admit the waiting participants through the Participants panel (accessed from a button on the bottom bar of your Zoom screen.)
    • Manage annotation: You should disable participant annotation in the screen sharing controls to prevent participants from annotating on a shared screen and disrupting meeting.

    Additionally, there are some in-meeting options to help secure and control your virtual meeting:

    • Disable video: You can turn off a participant’s video to block any distracting or inappropriate content while your meeting is in session.
    • Mute participants: You can mute and unmute individual participants or all of them at once. Mute Upon Entry (in your settings) is also available to limit the noise/distractions as people enter the meeting.
    • Attendee on-hold: As an alternative to removing a participant from your meeting, you can temporarily disable their audio/video connections. Click on the attendee’s video thumbnail and select Start Attendee On-Hold to activate.
    • Lock your meeting: Once the meeting has started and all participants have joined, lock the meeting using the Lock Meeting button in the Manage Participants pop-up. This will ensure that no one who was not invited crashes your meeting.

    Visit York’s Information & Privacy Office website for a suite of Privacy Resources for Students, including information for protecting your online reputation, cyber security and social media privacy for university students.


    Some online classes may be recorded by your instructor. If your course involves recording, you will be provided with this notice:

    Student Notice of Recording for Remote Teaching and Learning

    Activities for this course involve recording, in partial fulfillment of the course learning outcomes. Images, audio, text/chat messaging that have been recorded may be used and/or made available by the University to students enrolled in the course and those supporting the course for the purpose of materials review, for assessment, etc. Recordings will be managed according to the University’s Common Record Schedule and will be securely destroyed when no longer needed by the University. Your personal information is protected in accordance with the York University’s Policy on Access of Information and Protection of Privacy and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

    The University will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of the recorded information, but cannot provide a guarantee of such due to factors beyond the University’s control, such as recordings being forwarded, copied, intercepted, circulated, disclosed, or stored without the University’s knowledge or permission, or the introduction of malware into computer system which could potentially damage or disrupt the computer, networks, and security settings. The University is not responsible for connectivity/technical difficulties or loss of data associated with your hardware, software, or Internet connection.

    By engaging in course activities that involve recording, you are consenting to the use of your appearance, image, text/chat messaging, and voice and/or likeness in the manner and under the conditions specified herein. In the case of a live stream recording, if you choose not to have your image or audio recorded, you may disable the audio and video functionality. If you choose to participate using a pseudonym instead of your real name you must disclose the pseudonym to your instructor in advance to facilitate class participation.

    You are not permitted to disclose the link to/URL of an event or an event session recording or copies of recording to anyone, for any reason. Recordings are available only to authorized individuals who have been directly provided the above instructions/link for their use. Recordings for personal use, required to facilitate your learning and preparation of personal course/lecture notes, should not be shared with others without the permission of the instructor or event coordinator.

    More information about accessibility can be obtained from Student Accessibility Services.


    Your course instructor may include assignments through eClass using the Turnitin software in support of York’s commitment to academic integrity. To learn more about Turnitin assignment submission, you can review an interactive demo and the Student Turnitin Guide on the Computing for Students website.


    Course instructors may also use Slack or other online messaging, meeting or collaboration tools. It is important to know that the University does not support these platforms or have institutional licenses for them. Select the one(s) you want to use carefully and always check privacy policies before sharing any data.