University of Chicago Graham School Online Courses

We currently offer five online certificate programs comprised of the same curriculum and instructors as our on the ground programs. Our online certificate programs allow you to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills under the expert direction of faculty and those working in the field while interacting with other University of Chicago students and with course instructors.

Graham School Online Course Frequently Asked Questions

What happens in online courses?

When you take an online course at the Graham School, you’ll get the same information, same rigor, same instructors as you do in the face-to-face classes. The difference is that you’ll interact with them in a virtual classroom rather than a physical one. Individual courses differ in their structure, but in general, you’ll have access to your syllabus and assignments through the University’s online learning management system (LMS), called “Chalk,” which allows you to access all course materials, assignments, quizzes, and project, and to communicate with your instructor and classmates electronically.

Like our face-to-face courses, the Graham School’s online courses emphasize critical thinking, discussion, and project-based learning throughout its curriculum.

Do I ever need to come to campus physically?

No. You will have face-to-face contact with your instructor and the other students during the “synchronous” classroom sessions, during which you’ll participate in a live discussion online via a technology called Adobe Connect. Some programs have the option of combining online courses with face-to-face courses, depending on your schedule and interests. Check the program brochure for more information. Depending upon your program, you have the option of doing some of your courses online and some in a traditional face-to-face format, depending on your schedule.

What is the time commitment for an online course?

That depends upon the program. In general, you’ll spend at least as much time on an online course as you would in a face-to-face class, since much of the material will be delivered as readings and written responses to questions or online discussions.

Do I have to be a computer expert to participate in an online program?

No, not at all. The learning management system, Chalk, used by the University of Chicago is very user friendly. You do need some basic computer skills, however, such as the ability to conduct a basic search on the web using a browser, download software from the Internet, to send and receive emails, open attachments, and save documents in Word, Excel, and as PDFs. It may take a few minutes when you get started to learn how to use the online discussion boards and synchronous class meeting spaces, but there will be good instructions along the way for using the technology until you get used to it.

The University’s “Chalk” site also has a “Help Resources” tab, which you can use to review online tutorials in case you get stuck, or want to learn a more advanced feature of the system.

Do I have to apply to the online certificate program?

Yes. You apply for admission to the program just as you would for the face-to-face program, using the application form.

What is a synchronous session? What is Adobe Connect?

Each online course includes weekly synchronous sessions, which are additional opportunities for discussion, lecture, student presentations, and interaction. The synchronous sessions are pre-scheduled dates and times when you, your instructor, and your classmates will all gather in the online meeting room at the same time. Currently, the Graham School uses a program called Adobe Connect to conduct synchronous sessions.

Is there any orientation to online learning, and to the learning management system?

Yes. Once you’re accepted in the certificate program, you’ll be directed to free, but mandatory, course, “Orientation to Online Learning.” This brief course provides you with a chance to use the system and get a feel for the technology and its features before you begin your first course.

Will I need to buy text books, or is everything included online?

Some courses have text books, but others do not. The required materials and texts are listed in the course syllabus for each course, which you’ll receive once your register for the course. If a textbook is required, the system will provide a link where you can purchase the book online.

How do I register and access the materials for my courses?

When you are accepted to the program, you will be given a user name, called your “CNet ID.” You will be instructed to visit the University’s CNET ID website to claim your ID and create a password. This ID and password will allow you to access the course syllabus, materials, and instructions, once you register for your first course. You’ll receive more information about this process once you’re accepted into your program.

The first course, required for all online students, is “Orientation to Online Learning.” This course is offered free-of-charge, and is intended to introduce online students to the learning environment and give you practice using the online tools before taking your first course. You will access this course after you register for your first online course.

I can’t make the synchronous session this weekend.
You should make arrangements with your instructor and program manager as early as possible if you are going to miss a synchronous session. You will need to watch the recording of the session when it is posted to the Chalk site and you may be asked to complete additional assignments assigned by the instructor. Attendance in the synchronous sessions is mandatory so missing a session may affect your final grade.

Technical/Software/Trouble Shooting Questions About Taking Online Courses

What kind of equipment and software do I need in order to take an online course?

At a minimum, you will need the following hardware and software to participate in the Graham School’s online programs:

  • Access to a modern computer
  • Reliable high-speed Internet access via cable, Ethernet, or WiFi
  • A recent version of a reliable internet browser
  • An email account and service that is dependable and easily accessible at various times of the day
  • A basic microphone for participation in group discussions
  • A sound card and speakers for participation in group discussions

This handout describes these system and software requirements in greater detail. If your computer is less than two years old, and you are running the internet with a high-speed connection, you should have no trouble using the learning management system or downloading the software you need to participate.

I can’t hear the audio during the synchronous session.
First make sure your headphones are plugged into the proper jack also check that the master volume setting on your computer is not muted. You can check this by right clicking on the small speaker icon on the lower right corner of your desktop. If you have verified that your volume is on and are still having trouble with audio, check to make sure the speaker icon on the top of the synchronous session screen is green. Click on the down arrow next to the icon to adjust your volume.
My microphone is not working.
First make sure your microphone is plugged into the appropriate jack. Next ask the host if the microphone rights for participants have been turned on. If so, the next step would be to run the audio set up wizard. To run the wizard: click on the tab labeled Meeting then select Audio Set up Wizard from the menu. If your microphone is still not working contact the host in the chat box for a solution.
I can’t get the modules to load and open.
This is usually browser or cache related (see above for recommendations). You might also try logging out and logging back into Chalk as well as shutting down your computer and restarting.
How do I empty my cache?
Enter the search phrase how do I enter my cache [insert computer model] in a Google search.
I can’t view Word documents.
Make sure you are using one of the recommended browsers, Internet Explorer 8 or Mozilla Firefox 3.6. If you are and you are still having problems, try emptying your cache.
I can’t view PowerPoint slides.
Please make sure you are using one of the recommended browsers. Chalk was designed to run best on Internet Explorer 8 and Mozilla Firefox 3.6. Also, if you are using a recommended browser and are still having problems, try emptying the cache on your computer.
How do I contact IT Services for help?
You can call IT Services at 773.702.5800 (option 4) or email them at chalk@uchicago.edu. Their hours of operation are 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Central Time.
I can’t remember my CNET password.
You can reset your password at https://cnet.uchicago.edu/recertify/
I can’t access the online library resources, like the AMA Manual of Style.
The permissions on your CNET account may need to be adjusted. Please leave a message with your program coordinator.

Course Questions

I don’t know when my assignment is due.
This may differ from program to program, but due dates can be found in the Chalk course, whether on the syllabus, the assignment posting, or weekly PowerPoint presentations.
I was unable to complete the test/quiz due to a technical error and now I can no longer access it.
Contact the program manager immediately to alert them to the situation. They will be able to reset your access to the test/quiz.
Where can I access the readings assigned through the library reserves?
Click on the Library Reserves tab in the toolbar on the left of the Chalk site. This will take you to the library site. *Please Note: If you are using a Mac you may have difficulty accessing the items. Click on the tab on the left‐hand toolbar of the reserves site labeled Problems viewing reserve items on a Mac?
I can’t find the instructor’s contact information.
This may differ slightly from program to program, but contact information for the course instructor can usually be found on the syllabus in the Chalk course or under Contacts, which you can get to by clicking on the Tools link on the course toolbar.
Where is the link for the synchronous session?
The URL for the synchronous sessions is located on your syllabus as well as the announcements page in Chalk.