Some of our international students take only remote classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are some ways to support them. 

  • Time zones:
    • Students in their home countries are many time zones away from us. They may have the commitment to attend a synchronous Zoom class at late hours, but that is not the best condition for learning to happen. One strategy to address this issue is to offer the content and assignments asynchronously. Read more about this in CTL resources for flexible teaching.
  • Internet:
    • Students abroad may have challenges with internet access, stability, and speed. Certain applications and websites may also be difficult to access or use. One way to address these issues is to provide different ways to meet course requirements. Check in with your students about any technology difficulties they may have. Taking that into consideration will help keep them engaged in the course.
  • Syllabus
    • New international students may be unfamiliar with syllabi and how they are used in U.S. higher education. An introductory message instructing students to read the syllabus may convey the importance of the document.
    • International students may be unfamiliar with some classroom practices, so revising and expanding descriptions of assignments (including submission guidelines), exams, due dates, participation, and office hours, for example, may provide very helpful clarity. 
  • Participation:
    • In classes where participation is assessed, it is important to set clear expectations. Students from different cultures communicate in varied ways, which may impact their performance in class participation. 
    • Providing multiple ways for a student to participate is an inclusive practice. In addition to synchronous participation via Zoom, some asynchronous options include Canvas discussion boards, VoiceThread (available in Canvas), Zoom recordings, and even one-on-one communication with the professor.
  • Lectures:
    • Students with limited internet connections will benefit from recorded lectures. Recording synchronous Zoom lectures to the cloud makes it easy to share the content with students abroad. In addition, Zoom offers a very practical automated captioning service. A recorded lecture with captions may benefit all students!
    • The CTL’s resources on flexible teaching are helpful here as well.
  • Course materials:
    • It may take longer for students to receive textbooks abroad.
    • Students will not have access to hardcopies of texts from campus libraries. 
  • Office Hours:
    • International students coming from cultural backgrounds where it is not appropriate to take professors’ time outside the classroom may feel uncomfortable to request a meeting during office hours. It might be helpful for the professor to invite the international students to a meeting instead. Consider offering varied options as students likely are several time zones away. 
  • Academic integrity:
    • New students will have a brief online lesson about the Honor Code as part of the International Student Orientation. However, international students may need additional help understanding academic integrity as we practice it here in the U.S.
  • Peers:
    • New students learn much about how to navigate the college experience from their peers, especially those who have been here for a while. There will be reduced opportunity for these interactions for remote students and students will need additional support. 

Further Reading & Resources:

The Office of Undergraduate Education offers further resources for supporting international students, including workshops and consultations. Roberto Arruda, Director of International Student Academic Success, is available to meet with faculty and groups to develop strategies to support international students' learning. There is also a Canvas community course to join with additional resources. 

Working with International Students Canvas Course