Distance Course Formats

You may have different types of interaction with an instructor, tutor, marker or other students in your distance or online learning course, depending on the format.


BCIT correspondence courses are self-directed courses, in which you work at your own pace, interacting rarely or not at all with an instructor. You may be required to submit assignments that are marked and returned and also to complete a mid-term and/or final examination or other form of final student assessment. Self-directed courses can be term-based and therefore last 12 weeks.

The other type is continuous entry, a flexible option that allows you to register and start at any time.  All continuous entry courses have a set course duration in weeks which starts on the registration date, and in which the course must be completed.  Some courses have a duration of one year. Many courses allow for re-registration, which provides students additional time to complete their course work.

Online learning

Online courses provide for rich interaction between you and your instructor, between you and other students, or both. Online courses often have weekly scheduled learning activities or assignments in which you may work in collaborative groups or participate in discussion forums. Individual contact with instructors follows a pattern similar to that in a classroom.

Usually, expectations for frequency of communication with your instructor are established at the beginning of the course; for example, your instructor may respond to your e-mail and bulletin board postings within 48 hours. Online courses begin on their start dates; students will not have access to the course before then. Your password and log-in ID for your course will not work before that date.

For more info, see Is Online Learning for Me? [PDF, 13 KB].

Guided learning

Guided courses are most commonly used in health education at BCIT. Learners order sets of course materials and have a term (12 weeks) in which to prepare for their final exam or evaluation. Assignment due dates are also scheduled. Help from an instructor via telephone and e-mail is available during a set time each week. The courses often encourage or require group work that occurs by telephone conferencing or computer technologies.

Web-enhanced courses are those in which classroom students have access to complementary online course content and resources.

The amount of instruction in your course may also depend on the length of the course. Your course may be term-based (typically 12 to 13 weeks in length) or continual-intake, in which you can register and start at any time and are given a specified number of weeks to complete.

Important course or tutor information will be sent to you by email prior to your course start date. Check your myBCIT email account to access this information.


Assignments may be submitted to a marker, tutor or instructor — depending on the course — who marks and returns assignments to you. Assignments may be submitted by mail or e-mail. Return times will depend on the schedule of the marker, tutor or instructor and the mode of submission.


Most distance and online learning courses have examinations: mid-term and final.

Valid test results

To ensure valid test results, your school may ask you to locate a suitable proctor — a registered member of a profession — to supervise you while you write. You put BCIT in contact with the proctor by submitting your written Request to Write Examination Off-Campus (on the form provided in your course package). Your program assistant will accept the form by mail or fax.

Registered professions include: educator, librarian, faith leader, nurse, hospital technologist, accountant, professional engineer.

A proctor ensures that all examination procedures and criteria set by BCIT and your program are adhered to, a process that is often referred to as invigilation. Your examination and instructions will be sent to your proctor who will then invigilate you for the period of the examination, verify invigilation criteria and return your examination to BCIT for marking.

You may also write examinations for distance & online learning courses at BCIT on scheduled dates. We provide the proctors; you'll need to complete a request form (Request to Write Examination at BCIT). Contact your Program Assistant for information about this form.


For term-based courses, examinations may be scheduled for selected weeks in the term (e.g., weeks 5, 7, 9 for midterms and week 13 for final exams). Other courses may allow you to choose a date for your examinations.

The program’s Student Handbook gives further examination information to students registered in distance courses. As well, your course outline and program staff will have detailed information about examinations.

For more information, contact your department's Program Assistant [PDF, 85 KB]