How will I take my classes?

Your professors will be getting in touch with you about how they will structure your class, including the what, when, where, and how to do this. These will be the most important instructions you receive for taking your online classes, so make sure to check your email for this information.
Your class schedule will depend on how your instructor is going to teach their class online. Some instructors may choose synchronous teaching and keep with their original time slots. Other instructors may choose asynchronous teaching and not keep to their original time slots. It is important that you keep in touch with your instructor with any questions that you have about your classes, including schedules.

There are a couple platforms that are widely used by Whitman professors for online teaching:

  • Canvas
  • Zoom
  • Google Meet
  • Google Docs

More information about these are available in the Technology Needs and Tips section.

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous

Professors will determine the teaching method the works best for their classes. Some classes may be entirely asynchronous, meaning that the course components (such as lectures, discussions, lab work, etc.) will not happen at a fixed point in time. A lecture may be recorded, uploaded to the internet and a link shared with students to watch at a time of their choosing. Other classes may be entirely synchronous, with live lectures and discussions on Zoom or Google Meet scheduled for specific times according to the original class schedule. Some classes may have both synchronous and asynchronous components. Professors will send scheduling information to students before classes begin, so watch your email and check in Canvas for that information.

About Canvas

Canvas is an online learning management system (LMS) where professors will add course information, upload resources, host class discussions and so much more! It will be a primary platform for online learning at Whitman. You can access it with your Whitman login credentials through, directly at and through the Canvas Student mobile app (available for iOS and Android). 

Textbooks and Course Materials

Students will be able to order books through the Whitman College bookstore.  Many books will have digital versions to purchase and others will be able to be mailed directly to your home. The bookstore has created this instructional document on how to look up and order textbooks online.

Penrose Library is also ordering digital copies of books that will be used for courses which will be available to checkout. 

Other course materials: Your professors will give you specific guidance on this. In general, however, it is highly likely that your course materials will be found in Canvas or other mechanisms like email that your professors use for your classes. 

Prepare Your Environment

As you consider what will support your success in online learning, consider the following questions:

  • What space in your house will be most conducive to helping you focus? Do you have a desk and comfortable seating? Is there adequate lighting? Is it quiet for when you are in live online classes?
  • Does your study space have consistent internet access and enough electrical outlets for your equipment?
  • Think about scheduling and keeping track of tasks. What tools might you need to manage your time - a to-do list, a task manager app, a calendar, a paper planner? 
  • Do you have the equipment you need to access online classes and learning resources? Examples include:
    • A computer (laptop or desktop) – Any “recent” Mac or Windows computer is fine
    • A smartphone (or any phone)
    • A tablet – Apple and Android tablets are both fine
    • A webcam (built-in or separate from your computer/tablet/smartphone)
    • A microphone (built-in or separate from your computer/tablet/smartphone)
    • Headphones
    • Chrome and/or Firefox web browsers – (Safari and other browsers on desktops/laptops/smartphones not recommended)
    • Printer access

We want to make sure we have a good understanding of the technology needs of our students. Faculty and staff have been working hard all summer to consider how things went in the spring and to make improvements so that the remote learning model is as engaging for all of our students as possible.