introducing MLane + Tips for Teaching International Students Remotely

September 23, 2020

ITS recently announced the launch of MLane, a new IT solution for University of Michigan (U-M) students studying remotely from China during the 2020-21 school year. The platform provides students in China more reliable, high-speed access to specific U-M teaching and learning tools and resources, including Canvas, the Google GSuite, Zoom, and the CAEN Virtual Desktop.

Many international students are enrolled remotely during the 2020-2021 academic year, taking courses in different time zones all over the world. Like many institutions across the country, U-M faced the unique challenge of providing a high-quality learning experience to these students despite significant IT barriers. This was especially true in countries like China, which blocks commonly-used websites and resources here in the U.S. By introducing MLane in China, U-M is able to help a large number of international students gain access to key instructional materials.

For more information about MLane, click here or contact the ITS Service Center.

Considerations for Teaching International Students Remotely

While MLane provides an important access point for students in China, students who are distributed globally may face additional challenges with remote learning. Here are some best practices and measures faculty can take to better address the challenges these students may be facing: 

  • Turn on live captions: When delivering content via Zoom, Kaltura, Google Slides, and other remote teaching platforms, consider turning on live captions to make your lectures more inclusive.
  • Be mindful of language: Even proficient English speakers may not be familiar with many figurative language devices. When teaching students in a remote environment, use clear and direct language that avoids idiomatic expressions or local references. Similarly, avoid referencing pop culture in ways that assume common experience among your students.
  • Consider time zone differences: If administering timed assessments, offer an alternative time slot for students outside of Michigan. For remote office hours, consider offering additional or staggered times by appointment to accommodate students in different time zones.
  • Provide opportunities for asynchronous participation: Live/synchronous course participation might not be possible for some international students. To ensure all students can participate and engage with their peers, offer asynchronous opportunities such as discussion boards or team blogs. If delivering content synchronously (e.g. live lectures), consider recording the session for students who are unable to attend.
  • Survey the class to optimize group work: Before forming remote groups or project teams, survey the class to determine the different time zones and most effectively match students. We recommend using the CATME Team-Maker, an online tool used to form students into groups using customized criteria, including time zone.

For more tips and resources on teaching international students remotely, click here.

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