Tip Sheet: Best Practices for Remote Teaching and Learning Internationally

Georgetown is proud that our students come from all around the world. When campus is open, we have an international student body in one place. But in a time of remote teaching, when students have returned to their homes, some of them may be many time zones away and/or in environments that pose challenges for learning. Here are some tips—for faculty and students—on how to make the most of this complex situation.

Advice for Faculty

  • Overall, expect complications and plan to respond with flexibility.
  • Be attentive to students’ emotional state. This situation may be causing stressful financial problems for your international students, and they may also find themselves in a Catch-22 as they decide whether to return to their home countries or stay here. If they stay here, they’re cut off from their home communities and their support systems; if they go home, issues like time-zone differences may make them feel distant from their educational community. 
  • Consider time-zone differences in adapting your course to a remote format. With large time differences,
    • It’ll be particularly important to record any synchronous sessions to be shared with all students after the session.
    • It may be helpful to make at least some of the course engagement asynchronous (e.g., in the form of Canvas discussion boards, group projects with students working on Google docs at different times, etc.). That said, asynchronous interaction requires students to do more writing, which may be challenging for students for whom English is a second language, so make sure it’s clear that you don’t expect formal writing in a written discussion.
    • If your class is small, you could try to find a workable alternate meeting time.
  • Know what restrictions may be imposed on your students by their environments:
    • Some countries have restrictions on internet access and/or access to particular apps and websites. For example, some countries block Google, which also means blocking Georgetown’s Gmail-based email system.
    • Synchronous classes may require students to talk aloud in their homes about course material, which might conflict with cultural norms if the material is sensitive in the surrounding culture.
    • It’s always helpful to survey your students about any issues they might be facing in adapting to remote learning, including issues rooted in their location (e.g., restrictions on access, cultural sensitivities to course material, logistical and legal barriers to participating in class activities).

Advice for Students

  • First and foremost, communicate with your professors
    • Let them know what time zone you’ll be in and what issues may come up as a result of the country you’ll be in, such as:
      • Restrictions on internet access and/or access to certain apps/websites
      • Whether you’ll need to use an email address other than your Georgetown one, given that Georgetown uses Gmail
      • Whether there are cultural sensitivities around course discussion topics
      • Quarantine laws that may limit your ability to do course activities
    • Ask them what accommodations they can make for your situation. For example, professors have been asked to record class sessions, and it’s a good idea to check in about that to make sure recordings will be available if attending class synchronously isn’t a reasonable option for you. Also, will any other asynchronous options—e.g., Canvas discussion boards—be available? Or, perhaps, if the class is small, could its timing be changed to allow all students to attend live?
  • If you’re concerned about how the situation might affect your grade in the course:
    • Seek help from the professor and/or your dean
    • Know that taking the course S/CR/NC is still an option available to you through the last day of classes 
  • If your home situation is causing difficulties in connecting to the internet, see this UIS page on Internet Connectivity Issues.
  • If your home country has internet restrictions (i.e., restrictions on which apps and sites you can use and visit), the use of commercial full-tunnel VPN solutions,  where permitted, may provide a solution.
  • For questions about immigration, visa, and other legal/logistical matters, see this FAQs sheet from Georgetown’s Office of Global Services.

Additional Resources