For Faculty: Online Instruction and International Students

ISSS would like to share some tips for working with international students through online learning. These tips were shared by Jodi Simek, International Student and Scholars, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the Global Ambassadors at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, with added suggestions offered by current UConn international students from the ISSS Student Advisory Board and CETL. 


Tips for Online Instruction with International Students Due to COVID-19 

While international students are required to take a certain number of in-person courses, the federal authorities are allowing institutions a temporary change in mode of instruction due to COVID-19.   This means that you may have international students taking your class from UConn residence halls and the local community, other parts of the United States, or from their home country. Below are a few thoughts compiled from international students to help you prepare for online instruction:

  1. International students who went home would rather be in your class.  Their families, governments, or exchange programs are recalling them. They are experiencing culture shock and returning to a home very different than the one they left.  For many, it is a dream cut short.
  2. They may be in forced home or governmental quarantine for a period of time where they may not have access to the internet.
  3. They may be joining your course or advising appointments in the middle of the night, where they may share space with family who are sleeping.  Consider being as flexible as possible with assessments and their timely administration for international students, recording your synchronous class sessions so that students can view the content in their local time and refer back to the content for additional review. If instructors are considering holding tests at multiple times, we have found that 8 am EST works well for many other time zones.
  4. If the mode of instruction will increase spontaneous written response in online discussion, they may be writing with an accent without the opportunity to check their own writing.  As we typically allow people to speak with an accent, consider that in spontaneous writing. Similarly, if you have time, please consider close captioning your recorded lectures. CETL offers workshops on how to do this using Kaltura machine-generated captioning and additional information can be found at  Research suggests closed captioning enhances retention for all students including ESL students. 
  5. Some websites are not readily available in China but may be accessed through VPN, such as google products, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.  WeChat works. We have told students that they need to anticipate these challenges, but they may reach out to you about their concerns and technology limitations for their courses. 
  6. Students who are graduate assistants are still fulfilling their GA duties remotely. It is really challenging to balance this along with online courses. Added to this mental stress, students are considering that their summer plans to travel or visit family will not be possible if the pandemic persists worldwide. Once this is all over, many students will appreciate a break to get away or see their families.  
  7. Students appreciate having extra study guides to supplement the course content, especially for content-heavy courses. This is especially helpful for students who cannot participate in online office-hours due to time differences.
  8. The students are anxious. There is a lot of pressure on them to do well. We continuously remind them to reach out to you to talk about their concerns and limitations, and they really appreciate faculty checking in on them to see if they need anything or have any questions.

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