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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

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. Check out our Learning Commons Orientation video to learn more.

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!

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, or webinars/workshops.

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, including the Student Guide to Remote Learning (developed by Learning Skills Services), check out the online resources section of the Learning Commons web site.

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Research help is available via the Library through both on-demand (chat, zoom 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.

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. If you cannot find an online edition of your textbook by searching OMNIconnect with one of our friendly research help staff for help with searching and advice on next steps.

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.

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.

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 Citing Your Work guide.

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Writing Centre

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. Find more information at  the Writing Centre’s web site.

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.

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

Yes, it does. This year, you can drop-in for a 15 minute zoom appointment with a writing expert during specified hours Monday to Friday. Check out the Drop-in Support section of the Writing Centre’s web site for more information

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

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.

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.

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.

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)

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, theme classes/workshops, and virtual ESL café.

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.

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.

OLC conducts an ESL Virtual 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.

Students can book any type of session with us through the ESL Open Learning Centre website:

To book an appointment, watch the handy video posted on the ESL OLC website for step-by-step instructions. In summary, first-time users need to select the “Enrol here” button at the ESL OLC website and should follow instructions to make an appointment. Students from the Keele campus and the Glendon campus can access this booking system and receive support.

OLC invites students from different disciplines to attend and participate in online theme classes/workshops on Grammar Awareness, Pronunciation and Discussion, academic conventions and effective reading, listening, writing and learning strategies.

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Career Education & Development

Explore the Career Education & Development 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 Education & Development’s eClass (Moodle) site that will help you explore career options too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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