Learning Commons FAQs

This set of FAQs sets out to help York University students get quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions that come our way at the Learning Commons, including the nature of our services during COVID-19. We hope it proves useful.

General Questions

What is the Learning Commons?

The Learning Commons is a collaborative endeavour that offers students an integrated approach to academic support by bringing together key academic services, both physically and virtually, for student convenience. In the COVID-19 environment we’re operating in virtual mode to help you with areas such as writing, library research, english language support, learning skills, and career planning. Learn more about the Learning Commons by consulting this information.

What services are available in the Learning Commons and how do I access them?

The Learning Commons brings together academic learning supports to help students with areas such as writing, library research, citing, time management, study skills, exam preparation, english language support, career planning and much more. Check out the Learning Commons web site to consult our wide array of online learning resources and to discover how our friendly staff are available online to help you!

What are the Learning Commons hours?

At the current time the Learning Commons offers hours for services delivered virtually. Check out the Learning Commons web site to discover when all our partners are offering their drop-in, appointment-based, and webinars/workshops.

Does the Learning Commons offer any self-paced online learning tools to help students prepare for academic assignments?

Yes, we do. We are especially well known for SPARK (Student Papers & Academic Research Kit), a free e-learning resource, that promotes self-paced learning to support academic skills and help you prepare for written academic papers and assignments. For more online learning tools, check out the online resources section of the Learning Commons web site.

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How can I get help researching for my assignment/project?

Research help is available via the Library through both on-demand (chat and text services), as well as email, FAQs, and appointment-based research help services. Consult the Ask A Question section of the Library’s web site for a description of each service and options on how to connect. If you prefer to learn in a self-directed way, research guides offer a really great place to start. These curated pathfinders help you navigate through key resources the Library offers for different subjects.

How can I get access to textbooks from the library website?

Not all textbooks are available at the Library and this is especially true for online editions – many of the large commercial textbook publishers do not provide purchasing options to libraries and prefer to sell directly to individuals. Due to COVID-19, there is also currently no access to physical reserves – a typical location for at least some textbook resources – as the physical libraries at York are closed. If you cannot find an online edition of your textbook by searching OMNI, connect with one of our friendly research help staff for help with searching and advice on next steps.

How can I find peer-reviewed articles for my research assignments?

Very often instructors will ask you to find peer-reviewed articles as part of course assignments. Peer-reviewed or refereed means that the article was approved by a panel of reviewers who are considered experts in their fields. Follow the steps in our Finding Journal Articles guide to track down journal articles. Step five in this guide talks about determining if the article found is peer-reviewed.

Does the Library offer access to online recordings, videos and movies?

Yes, the Library offers a rich collection of streaming media. Consult these tips to learn how to find streaming videos using OMNI. The Library also offers this list of descriptions and links to streaming video databases. Many online audio collections are also available through our subscription services.

How can I cite my sources using a particular citation style like APA or MLA?

For quick tips on citing using APA or MLA style, please visit SPARK’s APA Style Overview and MLA Style Overview. For more detailed style guidelines, please visit the APA and MLA sections of our Footnotes & Bibliographies research guide.

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Writing Center

What is the Writing Centre and how can it help me with my assignments?

The Writing Centre’s trained instructors offer one-on-one sessions, workshops, drop-in appointments, and other writing support services for undergraduate and graduate students. You need to register first by going to:


What is a one-on-one session? Is it free?

Each week, you can book a 50-minute FREE individual appointment with a writing instructor to work on a writing assignment. Your instructor can help you with strategies at any stage of the assignment, whether you’re just getting started through to revision. This Fall, most of our appointments are held online in real-time.

Where do I register and how do I book an appointment?

Go to the Writing Centre’s home page and click on “Enrol” to register or book

Does the Writing Center have drop-in sessions?

Yes, it does. In Fall 2020, you can book a 20 minute drop-in session for an online real-time appointment.

What other services do you have to offer?

We offer a regular workshop series that focuses on different aspects of writing assignments. We also have an Accessibility Specialist for those registered with Accessibility Services, a Multilingual Studio you can sign up for, and a Graduate Student Café series of seminars for LA&PS PhD students.

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Learning Skills Services

How can I register for Learning Skills Services workshops? Are they free? How can I learn about the workshop topics?

You can register for Learning Skills Workshops by visiting our monthly calendar. Select the preferred workshop and register with the Zoom link provided. Attendees are required to use their YorkU Zoom account to register. Learning Skills workshops are all online and free for York students with a student ID and York email.

What is Peer Academic Coaching? How can I book a PAC appointment with Learning Skills Services?

Peer Academic Coaching offers YorkU students 30-minute 1-1 appointments. Meet with a knowledgeable Learning Skills Peer for support with managing their time, practicing reading & notetaking, or exploring effective learning strategies. We recommend students first attend a Learning Skills Workshop and then book a PAC appointment for follow-up questions and support. To see available appointments and step by step instructions on how to make an appointment, please visit How to Book An Individual Learning Skills Appointment.

I need help to manage my time better and figure out an effective schedule.

We recommend that you attend the Time Management workshop to learn more about the principles, practices, as well as tools to better manage your time. Students can also book a Peer Academic Coaching appointment with a Learning Skills Peer to work on their personal schedule. More Time Management resources are available on Learning Skills Services website.

Where can I get help with my academic readings?

Reading in university is more complex and time-consuming than in a high school environment. Learning Skills Services offers a Reading & Note-taking workshop that focuses on helping students improve their academic reading skills. Register for a workshop to learn more about more effective reading methods. Reading & Note-taking materials are also available on the Learning Skills website for further practice.

I have several exams coming up and I don’t know how to plan and study effectively?

We recommend you create a detailed study plan and start as early as possible in preparing for upcoming tests. There are different learning strategies suitable for different exam formats. To learn more about exam prep methods and online exam tips, register for an Exam Prep workshop. Resources for remote learning and online exams are also available on the Learning Skills Services website.

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ESL Open Learning Centre (OLC)

What is the ESL Open Learning Centre? What services do they provide?

OLC offers FREE English language support for any registered York University student who is currently learning English as a second or additional language in the ESL program or is currently enrolled in academic undergraduate or graduate degree programs. OLC tutors/ language facilitators are experienced instructors of the credited ESL program of York. This year we are offering one-on-one online assignment help sessions, small group discussions, presentation practice, and virtual ESL café.

I have to prepare an online presentation for my course, and I want to have some feedback. Where can I get help?

Students can book Presentation Practice sessions with us, or professors can contact us for small group sessions if their students are working on group presentations. Students can bring their presentation assignments for extra help with research, outlining, organization and delivery practice. Students are encouraged to upload their slides and assignments as an attachment when making an appointment, so that they can receive constructive feedback from OLC facilitators and rehearse their online presentations in their meeting.

I am an international student and am having difficulty understanding my readings and writing my essays. Where can I get help?

ESL students who are experiencing reading and writing challenges in their study can book assignment help sessions with us. OLC tutors/ language facilitators can help students clarify the major arguments, themes, and messages of their assigned readings, and guide students to structure their written assignments with coherent arguments, correct grammar, proper genres and effective language expressions.

I am not a native speaker of English and cannot speak fluently in this language. Is there somebody who can help me practice speaking English?

OLC conducts an ESL café inviting students from all disciplines to join us to discuss interesting social/ world topics and play conversational games online. OLC facilitators are also pleased to share their expertise and guide students to learn specific areas of English pronunciation, including word and sentence stress, intonation and rhythm, as well as idiom and natural speech in English in small group sessions.

Can I book different sessions with OLC tutors/facilitators? How can I do that?

Students can book any type of session with us through the ESL Open Learning Centre website: https://eslolc.laps.yorku.ca/. First-time users need to fill out a registration form by clicking the “Enrol here” button and should follow instructions to make an appointment. Students from the Keele campus and the Glendon campus can access our booking system and receive support from us.

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Career Center

How can I explore my career options?

Explore the Career Centre web site for information on a range of services and resources to help you plan your future.

There are more resources and activities on the Career Centre’s Moodle site that will help you explore career options too.

Where can I get help with editing my resume/CV/cover letter?

You can start by attending an online Resume & Cover Letter workshop – the schedule is posted on the Career Centre calendar.

If the schedule of the workshop doesn’t work for you there is an interactive resume tutorial in the Career Centre’s Moodle site you can access whenever you want:

If you’d like feedback on your resume, drop by the online Career Lounge and speak with a specially trained Peer Career Educator – no appointment required!

How can I find a job during the pandemic?

The Job Search and Networking Strategies online workshop is a great place to start. Register for this though the Career Centre calendar.

You can also find postings for both on-campus and off-campus jobs online.

Where can I get help with my grad/professional school application?

You can access information and resources about all aspects of . If you’d like to speak to a Career Educator about your application, you can drop by Career Corner every Wednesday between 11:00 – 12:30. Link is available through Zoom on the Career Centre calendar.

Do York alumni have access to the Career Center?

You will have access to all programs and services at the Career Centre for up to two years after you graduate!

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