Students studying remotely
Learn about study opportunities and supporting our students who are studying off campus.
The University offers a few exemptions for students who are approved to study remotely. To find out whether your course includes these students, see how they are identified via course sections in Canvas.
Find out also how to monitor student engagement within Canvas, read the guide on using the new Canvas Analytics.
There may be students arriving late for Semester One courses, who are approved to study online until such time as they join us on campus. These students should liaise with the course coordinator regarding in-person assessments.
To note: While travel restrictions were in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University partnered with LINC Education to provide online learning support for students studying from India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Now that restrictions have been lifted, this service is no longer available.
China Learning Centres (CLCs)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, University ties with CLCs were established to provide students in China (who are learning online) with a campus experience and face-to-face learning support, to enhance their student experience. With a full return to campus in Semester Two 2023, the arrangement with the CLCs has come to an end.
Faculties do have the provision of granting exceptions to on-campus study—to allow students to study remotely—and details, including circumstances to take into account, is outlined on the Staff Intranet.
FAQs for teachers
Will I be teaching to remote students in my course?
There may be a few exemptions for students who are approved to study remotely. See how these students are identified via course sections in Canvas.
What if a student would like to study remotely?
With a full return to campus for Semester Two 2023, exceptions to allow students to study remotely is at the discretion of each faculty and are granted for exceptional circumstances. If a student wishes to study online, they should contact the Student Centre. Email email@example.com or phone 0800 61 62 63.
If a student is then granted an exception for remote study, Course Directors should notify the Timetable and Enrolment team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To understand how these students are identified in your course, see course sections in Canvas.
Can remote students participate in face-to-face classes by Zoom?
If remote student/s have a good internet connection, camera and microphone, and you have a similarly equipped device that can be used to connect with the remote participants, and and your students are not disadvantaged by their time zone, the short answer is yes. However, a positive Zoom experience requires:
- A good camera and microphone set up (e.g. a mic can pick up student as well as teacher voices; choose whether to focus the camera on teacher/class/whole room).
- Someone to monitor Zoom (including chat) and check in with remote participants.
The University also has the facility to live-stream lectures.
Bare in mind that not all students have access to a consistent and fast internet service, and many have new obligations or restrictions that may prevent them from attending compulsory live lectures. Therefore, always provide a recording of the session to mitigate technical issues and for accessibility and decide whether it is appropriate for students to leave their cameras off. Recorded presentations, or alternative means of delivering content, ensures a more equitable access to a quality learning experience.
Where activities which are usually delivered live are necessary to the learning experience, consider if they can be delivered asynchronously in some way (for example, in place of a class discussion, try having students contribute and respond to other students in a discussion forum post or creating video recordings). In some cases there will be live interactive elements that can be more difficult to deliver asynchronously. Consider how you can accommodate students who may not be in the position to take part in the same way due to their circumstances.
What if my remote students complain that some course materials have restricted access?
Most University systems are not restricted from outside of the campus network, however, there are exceptions to this rule for students studying in China. Depending on where the digital materials are hosted, some webpages, documents etc. may not be ‘reachable’. In this case, please advise them to connect to the campus network via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). See: accessing technologies through VPN.
I use specialist software in my labs. Can remote students have access to this?
What about government monitoring of student activity in China?
For courses taught/supported in China, it is possible that Chinese governmental agents will have access to course material, including online discussions. Be aware that your activity may be monitored, particularly if you are from China, have family there, or plan to visit or do business in China in the future.
Your course format will influence what choices make the most sense for your teaching context.
Decide how your course will work online – will it be based on lecture recordings, discussions, readings and tutorials, group work? Which of these can be asynchronous (discussion posts, readings, watching videos, preparing a summary etc.) and which are best done in real time? Asynchronous activities do not require students to be in the same place at the same time, and are therefore easier to manage when teaching mixed-mode classes. 1
Given the presence of remote students, think about designing your course online first so it can function remotely. Then think about adding in your face-to-face (F2F) elements.
Content delivery: Consider flipping your course, i.e., provide most of the content asynchronously, online. This enables valuable synchronous time to focus on teacher-student and student-student interaction, for both F2F and remote students.
Students working individually: Again, consider moving these activities to online, asynchronous tasks.
Pair-work, small group work, whole class interaction: In synchronous classes, one option is to have both F2F and remote students interact via technology, rather than creating physical materials for in-person students and separate digital spaces for remote students.
- “neither group misses out
- the two groups are not segregated and unable to perceive work done by the other
- the teacher can focus on just one approach
- in-person students could potentially collaborate with online students so that the class feels ‘together’.” 2
Note that a whole-class verbal discussion is likely to be challenging or impossible for remote students, due to the inability of microphones to pick up all conversations. Polling (e.g., on Zoom) and backchannels (e.g., Zoom chat) can be useful alternatives.
For groupwork (including in Zoom breakout rooms), consider having students record their discussions in a shared, editable document (e.g., Collaborations in Canvas). This enables both teachers and groups to see what the others are discussing. It also saves repetition of each small group reporting back to the whole class afterwards.
Consider different time zones. It may not be feasible to meet your whole class in a Zoom session at one time – will you hold open digital ‘office hours’ to suit offshore students? What is the balance of F2F and remote students? If not too dissimilar, can you make use of the time differences? For example, ask students in one section to summarise a reading for the other groups to critique later, or make use of the difference to schedule peer reviews? Obviously, if there are only one or two remote students in a mostly F2F class, this would be neither fair nor practicable.
Managing a very imbalanced ratio of F2F and remote students can bring particular challenges. A remote student joining a large F2F class by Zoom needs careful management so as not to feel isolated. Ideally, GTAs (for example) will facilitate the remote student experience. If not, use group tasks where the students can take on specific roles, including one working with remote students. In some cases, assigning a different student to take the role of Zoom facilitator might be acceptable. You may like to rotate this role.
Managing remote students Zooming in to a F2F class
Students using Zoom to join a session allows for greater interaction in a tutorial or small class situation, rather than for large classes.
If you can teach in a room with a large display screen or a dedicated multi-mode teaching room, that is ideal. In most cases you will probably be receiving the Zoom student on a laptop or other portable device. If possible, someone in the classroom other than you should set up the Zoom session to ensure the students are connected, can hear and be heard, and have visibility of whatever is appropriate at different times during the class. This might entail regularly moving the laptop to provide the remote student a view of you teaching your class, or giving groupwork instructions, or it might entail the facilitator sharing your presentation on screen. The facilitator needs to check with the student regularly to see if they are trying to contribute to a discussion, or ensure they can hear, and if there are questions or comments from outside the student’s hearing range the facilitator needs to repeat the question or post it in the Zoom chat. You will also need to decide whether it is appropriate for students to leave their cameras off.
If you can’t have someone else monitor the online students and you really must have remote students in your live Zoom sessions, you will need to intentionally build in time to maintain their engagement in your class. Practise how you will do this. Otherwise it is better to pre-record Zoom sessions so that all students can view them when it suits them.
To support remote students, lecture recordings should be published within 24 hours.
Page updated 30/06/2023 (improved instructions around CLCs and VPN)
- Bonk, Curtis J., and Elaine Khoo. Adding Some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online. OpenWorldBooks.com and Amazon CreateSpace, (2014). ↩
- Liu, Danny, and Jessica K. Frawley. “Getting Students Talking Through Masks and Mics – Active Learning in Times of COVID-19.” Teaching@Sydney. Updated July 3, 2020. https://educational-innovation.sydney.edu.au/teaching@sydney/getting-students-talking-through-masks-and-mics-active-learning-in-times-of-covid-19/. ↩