Tips for Online Instruction with Multi-Time Zone Students

Modified on Mon, 21 Aug 2023 at 05:21 PM

Alarm Clock on Pink and Blue Background


Tips and Best Practices for a Successful Multi-Time Zone Class:

  • Tell students to set their time zone in Canvas so due dates show in their time zones. By doing this, students will see due dates and other dated content in their time zones in places like the Canvas calendar, the Canvas “To Do” list, assignments, etc. 
  • Be flexible with due dates/times. Allow for some wiggle room. Some students may have internet connectivity issues. 
  • Use due dates instead of “availability dates” to ensure students can submit assignments after the deadline passes if needed due to extenuating circumstances (e.g., a regional internet outage). 
  • A course should meet at the time that was listed when students registered for the course. If no meeting time was specified during registration and there is a desire for synchronous sessions, consider surveying students for the best meeting times or offering multiple synchronous sessions with staggered times
  • You can also try to form groups of students who are in similar time zones so they can easily work together.  
  • Make sure to record all Zoom sessions for class meetings and other synchronous sessions to which students need access. Make sure students know where to find Zoom recordings.
  • Use asynchronous discussion tools such as VoiceThread or discussion boards to foster community and so students can ask questions. 
  • Create a time for office hours. Talk honestly about students' needs and how they can succeed in your class. We recommend doing this at the beginning of your course and again around the mid-term to check-in.  

Common Issues Affecting Different Time Zones:

  • Students may have limited access to library resources since research must be done entirely from digitized collections.  
  • Many students may have firewalls put in place by their country of residence. Encourage students to email you with any access issues. We advise having students click through the different tools they are expected to use early on in the course so potential issues are not found right before an assignment is due.
  • Students may keep different hours than what is standard to attend synchronous sessions. This can impact their mood and sleep schedule, which affects performance and energy in class.  
  • Students may feel isolated from those who can communicate more synchronously during class time or students may be self-conscious about their English. 


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