About Distance Education

Each year, OpenEd offers more than 200 online degree-credit courses with more than 30,000 enrolments. Delivered entirely online via CourseLink—the University's learning management system—online courses are designed with flexibility in mind. Since there are no scheduled classes to attend, you can take advantage of studying at a time and place that is convenient for you, from anywhere in the world.

See our History & Expertise page to learn more about distance education at the University of Guelph.

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What are the benefits of taking online courses at U of G?

Great Variety of Courses

No matter where you live and what you wish to study, you can typically find an online course to meet your needs. Study online to earn an academic credit or discover new interests. Our offerings range from computer science to history, from biology to philosophy, etc. And more courses are being added every semester. Our online courses are offered in each of the three semesters and follow the same academic schedule as on-campus courses. 

Complete Your Online Class Anytime and Anywhere You Have Access to the Internet

Online courses are primarily delivered asynchronously, which means you, your classmates, and your instructor work on course activities at different times, based on your individual schedules. The course materials will be available to you on Day 1 and you can access them at any time that works for you throughout the course. You will not have to take public transportation to get to campus, you won't have to spend money on gas for your car, and you won't have to get up early to get dressed for class.

Learn at Your Own Pace

You'll benefit from a flexible schedule, which is extremely helpful if you're balancing your education with work and family commitments. You will be guided through a structured and a flexible schedule that helps you progress through the course at a pace that suits your needs. Though this allows for flexibility and convenience, you will still need to meet deadlines throughout the course—typically weekly.

It is a good opportunity for you to improve your time management skills and learn how to prioritize your time and work at your own pace. You can study when you are at your peak energy, whether that's early morning or late at night. All course materials and needed articles are always accessible online from the comfort of your home, and you don't need to schedule special trips to a library.

Robust Faculty and Academic Rigour

Our online courses are facilitated by dedicated and knowledgeable U of G faculty, offer the same research-driven, academically demanding experience as on-campus courses, and are equivalent in terms of curriculum and credit weight. You will have ample opportunities to learn from faculty who have real-world experience and hold the highest academic degrees in their fields. You will have multiple ways to communicate with your instructor—either via discussions, email, or live chat—to get feedback on your assignments or simply have a great Q&A.

Student Technical Support

If you run into technical difficulties and barriers during your time online, we provide a daily dedicated technical support to ensure your successful engagement in online courses. We strive to help all online students to feel connected to the faculty, their classmates and the University in general.

Learn Your Way

Our courses are custom designed with the online learner in mind. The minute you enrol in an online course, you create your very own learning environment that goes where you go. Our courses include video, audio, interactive activities, and other supplemental resources that present information in new, engaging ways to enhance your learning experience.

We offer ample interactive opportunities to participate in online discussions that will help you learn from your peers and forge long-term connections with them. You will be able to review course materials repeatedly as they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the duration of the course. It's so much easier to flip through the web pages of the course website, use the 'search' or 'find' function to quickly zero in on relevant paragraphs quickly, and take online notes to help you understand the course materials.

Connect and Learn from Each Other

In an online environment, you are empowered to learn from others in your course(s) who come from a wide range of backgrounds and locations. You'll have full control over the amount of exposure you have to the other students. Most of your interactions in the course are written to allow you to make intelligent and thoughtful contributions on your own time. No matter where you are located, you can discuss your work and make connections with other students. By engaging in a dialogue with other students, you learn about new ways of thinking, see other perspectives, and get to know each other better. 

Improve Your Self-Discipline

Commitment and self-discipline are required to be successful in an online course. You don't have an instructor to tell you when an assignment is due. You actually have to log in to check the course schedule and participate in the discussions in a timely fashion to earn the credit. Being idle or inattentive will cause you to quickly fall behind. By taking an online course, you develop stronger self-discipline and an improved work ethic.

Transfer Credits

In Ontario, online credits are usually transferable; you can take the needed course online at another university and then transfer the credit to your university. It's the perfect solution if you're trying to move through school quickly or need to make up lost time. If you want to register for a summer class but live too far from your institution or have to work summer jobs, taking an online course from a recognized university such as U of G and transferring the credits to your primary institution could be an answer. Similarly, if your institution is unable to offer enough open sections of a required course, you can take the online course at U of G and transfer the credits. Contact the Open Learning Program Counsellor for information.

What makes our approach to course development unique?

OpenEd offers a wide selection of online courses from a variety of disciplines. Within a learner-centred, research-intensive environment, distance learning experiences reflect the high pedagogical standards for which the University of Guelph is known. The following criteria have been developed to guide us in our development and redevelopment of distance education courses.

Comprehensive Design of Learning Experiences

Our distance learning specialists work with the faculty to develop online courses ensuring their soundness of learning methodologies and to guarantee that each course is fully developed, accessible, and meets the highest quality standards of an online course. U of G is a subscriber of Quality Matters (QM), a leader in quality assurance for online education. The development of every online course is guided by the QM Higher Education to evaluate the design of our online courses and to ensure that they meet the highest quality of the online industry standards. Our courses are built as web pages based on open source Web Experience Toolkit (WET) supported by the Government of Canada and then mounted on the D2L platform. This approach ensures that our online courses are accessible, mobile friendly, and supported by a wide variety of current web browsers.

  • Courses are developed within an active-learning, problem-based perspective, where learners are motivated to explore and utilize resources for specific pedagogical purposes.
  • Courses and programs are designed to be interactive—learners are able to interact with each other, with the material, and with the instructor.
  • Courses are created using a resource-based approach, thus encouraging the development and utilization of higher-level cognitive skills.
Learning Community Relationships
  • Registrants in a U of G online course form a learning community through discussion activities and study groups.
  • Collaborative activities, such as discussions and group work, are moderated, thereby linking researchers with learners.
  • Learners have the opportunity to continue to communicate with each other electronically, continuing the life of the learning community after the formal course or program is finished.
Links to Current Research
  • Faculty is encouraged to highlight and discuss their research interests and findings.
  • Research results are integrated into courses and programs—learners come into contact with the latest research in that field.
  • Guest experts in each field are used appropriately to highlight and/or discuss current research issues and problems.


Open Learning program students register for online courses through the OpenEd Student Portal. U of G degree students register via WebAdvisor