Frequently Asked Questions: Courses - Atlas Obscura
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Frequently Asked Questions: Courses

Having trouble accessing your online course? Click "Accessing Your Course" below to jump ahead.

Choosing a Course

What’s the difference between a seminar and a lecture series?

Seminars are interactive, small-group courses in which students may be invited to participate in live discussions, receive feedback from the course instructor, and, if applicable, workshop their projects. Seminars are usually capped at 25 participants for an intimate, highly participatory class experience.

While lecture series are also rich in content, they tend to be higher capacity and differently interactive. Instruction is more lecture-style than discussion- or project-centered, and discussion among participants takes place via the chat feature.

Another key difference is that while seminars are designed for in-person, real-time participation, lecture series are designed so students can participate live or watch a recording of the class after it airs.

Enrolling in a Course

What pricing options are available?

We’re continuously evaluating and evolving our pricing structure, building toward a model that is accessible for all students. We currently offer a limited number of no-pay ticket options for small-group courses, as well as tiered tickets and a limited number no-pay tickets for high-capacity lecture series. To ensure that this model sustainably supports all interested participants as well as our instructors, please select the ticket price you feel you can pay at this time.

How close to the course start date can I purchase tickets?

For most courses, you may purchase a ticket (provided space is available) up to the start of the first session. For some select seminars, sales end a few days prior to the course start date to allow instructors to prepare for the particular class size and composition.

Can I join a course after the first session begins?

For most courses, enrollment closes when the first session begins. However, select courses allow participants to enroll for up to one week following the course start date and time. Please select the “Join Late” ticket type to enroll after the course has begun. Students joining late will have access to a recording of the first session (emailed to participants within 72 hours) as well as the option to attend remaining sessions live.

Can I purchase a course as a gift for someone else?

Yes! When booking, you can simply adjust the attendee information for the individual you’d like to gift the course to and a confirmation email will be sent to the email you provide. We also offer online experience gift cards in various amounts, which can be used for any of our online experiences or courses ticketed through Eventbrite.

What's your refund policy?

For most seminars, purchasers can receive a full refund up to seven days prior to the course start date. For lecture series, purchases are final and nonrefundable.

There's a topic I want to learn about, but you’re not offering a course on it. What should I do?

Send us an email at! We're always working on new courses, and some of the best ideas come from the Atlas Obscura community. If we're working on a new course that might fit your interests, we'll let you know. We also recommend that you sign up for our Experiences and Daily newsletters, where we frequently announce new courses.

The course I want to take is sold out. What should I do?

You can join the waitlist for any sold-out course by clicking the “Join Waitlist” button. If a spot opens up, we’ll offer it to the next person on the waitlist, and if we add a new section for a course, we’ll notify all remaining people on the waitlist. If a course is sold out, there’s a very good chance we’ll offer it again in the future. Keep an eye out for new course announcements via our Experiences and Daily newsletters.

Accessing Your Course

How do I access my course?

You’ll receive a confirmation email shortly after making a purchase from Eventbrite with instructions on how to access each session. Be sure to save that email, as you’ll use it to access your course on each scheduled date and time.

Before each session’s scheduled date and time, simply click the “View the event” button and then click anywhere on the image that says “Click to join your online course.” You’ll use this same access method for all of the online course sessions included in your purchase. Please note that this will be your direct access point for the event. 

You’ll need to be logged in to the same Eventbrite account you used to purchase the ticket to avoid getting an error message.

The link doesn’t appear to be working. 

Double-check the date and time of your class, and be sure to wait until the meeting is supposed to begin to try to enter the meeting. The link may not work at all if you try to join the meeting half an hour before it’s scheduled to begin, for instance. If you join a few minutes ahead of time, you may be in the waiting room for a few minutes until the instructor lets everyone in.

I did not receive a confirmation email after purchase or have not received any emails pertaining to this course.

Please double-check the email address you entered when registering via Eventbrite, as that’s where all communications will be sent. Also take care not to unsubscribe from emails from Eventbrite. Occasionally, emails from us can end up in the recipient’s spam, so be sure to check your spam folder and add to your email provider’s safe sender list.

If you find you have not received any communications from us within 24 hours after your purchase, please get in touch with us as soon as possible to ensure we have time to address your issue.


Are sessions recorded and will I receive a copy of the recording after the class?

While most seminars are recorded for internal and/or promotional purposes, recordings are typically not shared with students. However, if you enroll in a seminar and know you’ll have to miss a class, or need to skip a session unexpectedly, please reach out to us and we can help you catch up, though we cannot guarantee the availability of recorded seminar sessions.

Lecture series sessions take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions. Within 72 hours after each session airs, we’ll email all enrolled students a recording of the session, which they can watch using a temporary password for up to two weeks after the course concludes.

During Your Course

Will I be able to email my instructor directly?

Questions about course content should be addressed during class meetings. You’ll also likely be able to message the instructor through the Google Classroom associated with your course. Other questions can be directed to At the conclusion of your course, your instructor and fellow classmates may choose to exchange contact information to keep in touch moving forward.

Do I need to use Google Classroom?

In most cases, for both seminars and lecture series, instructors will use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While you’re not required to use your course’s Classroom, note that most activity outside of class will likely take place there. Your instructor may choose to post assignments or discussion topics, share resources, or respond to student work and questions via Google Classroom. Additionally, we’ve seen it offer a great space for students to connect with fellow students. If you decide not to opt in, you’ll still be able to participate in all in-class activities; you will, however, miss out on shared resources and engaging with your peers and/or instructor outside of class. You’ll receive information on how to join Google Classroom during your first scheduled session and by email following your first session.

Why am I having trouble joining my course’s Google Classroom?

Certain email domains (such as .edu) may not be able to join Google Classroom. If you find you cannot access your Classroom, please try signing in with an alternate email address. If you’re still having trouble, please reach out to and we’ll help you get set up!

What happens if I need to miss a class?

If you are enrolled in a lecture series and have to miss a class, no need to let us know in advance or reach out to request a recording of the session you missed. Session recordings will be sent to all enrolled participants within 72 hours after each session airs and will be available to watch using a temporary password for up to two weeks after the course concludes.

Seminars, on the other hand, are designed for live participation. If you need to miss a class, please reach out to us and we will do what we can to get you caught up before the next session.

What accessibility features do you offer?

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses, as well as transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or access needs.

Contact Us

I have a question that you haven’t answered. How can I get help?

If you can't find what you're looking for here or on our general FAQ page, please get in touch via email at We’re available to assist Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m (EST). We'd love to hear from you!