Frequently Asked Questions: Live Courses

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

Choosing a Course

How do Atlas Obscura Live Courses differ from your On-Demand Courses?

Our Live Courses allow participants to engage with instructors and fellow students live on-screen for an immersive and interactive learning experience, while On-Demand Courses are designed so students can learn at their own pace with a guided structure that facilitates independent learning. You can learn more about On-Demand Courses and browse our current offerings here and see answers to frequently asked questions about On-Demand Courses here.

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 meets live.

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 tickets for many of our courses for those who could not otherwise participate. To ensure equal access, no-pay tickets are distributed using a randomized selection process two weeks before each course begins. For more information and to apply for no-pay spots, please click here

Additionally, we offer tiered ticket pricing 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 the time of purchase.

Why do I have to go through this process to get a no-pay ticket? 

At this time, we receive far more requests for no-pay tickets than we have spots available. We’ll never ask our students to submit proof of their financial situation. With this in mind, we feel the fairest way to distribute available spots is to use a randomized selection process rather than issuing them to whoever registers the fastest or granting no-pay spots on a case-by-case basis.

How do I apply for a no-pay ticket?

To apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. If you don’t see the course you’re looking for listed in the dropdown menu, no-pay spots are no longer available for this particular course. Spots are selected via a randomized drawing two weeks before the course begins, and distributed no less than one week prior to the first session. Applications submitted fewer than 14 days before the start of the course will not be considered. Please note that spots are limited and randomly distributed, so applying for a no-pay spot does not guarantee that you will receive one.

I submitted an application for a no-pay spot. Why haven’t I heard back from you?

If you do not receive a notification email by seven days prior to the course’s start date, you have not been selected to receive a spot. We encourage you to apply for available no-pay spots on other courses that may interest you, and to reapply if this course is offered again in the future!

I received a no-pay spot for a course that I can no longer attend.

If you are selected for a no-pay spot and find you are unable to attend the course, please reach out to us at so we can open up the space for another person.

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 gift cards in various amounts, which can be used for any of our 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 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 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 all sessions of 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?

All of our courses take place live over Zoom. Within 72 hours after each session meets live, we’ll email all enrolled students a temporary link to view the recording of the session for up to three weeks after the course concludes. While our lecture series are designed for asynchronous and live participation, please note that our small-group seminars are best experienced live.

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 course 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 for up to three weeks after the course concludes.

Please note that while our lecture series are designed for asynchronous or live participation, our small-group seminars are best experienced live.

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!