Managing Multiple Time Zones

Managing Multiple Time Zones


Some of your students will be returning to homes that are in distant time zones, making class attendance during normal class hours potentially very inconvenient. Here are some options for planning to accommodate this situation. 

  1. Find out where your students are/will be. Many students who come from distant places are staying on campus or have arranged to stay with family or friends nearer to Harvard.

  2. Record all class meetings and give students the option to watch the recording rather than attend live. Make sure there are asynchronous ways to communicate with teaching staff and peers.

  3. Move some sections or office hours into times that permit distant students to still have the opportunity to interact synchronously with you and each other.

  4. Reduce the number of synchronous class meetings, replacing some meetings with asynchronous alternatives (e.g. contributing to a discussion forum or editing/commenting on a shared document or meeting in smaller students groups for discussion).

  5. Divide class meeting time into shorter synchronous sessions and move some content to asynchronous formats. This can allow you or a TF to put in the same number of live class hours, but make them accessible at different times.

  6. Add an additional alternative regular class meeting time that is more convenient for distant students.

  7. For very small courses, find a "sweet spot" for your course meeting time that minimizes inconvenience. Be very careful about this option because students will be juggling complex schedules already. The evening EST/EDT is often the best option as it is early morning in east Asia, afternoon on the west coast, and late-but-often-still-awake time in Europe.

  8. Add opportunities for students to meet synchronously together outside of class time. Students can organize their own course-based Zoom meetings using the same interface that you, the instructor, use in Canvas; you might encourage them to organize their own study groups.

  9. Add opportunities for students to meet synchronously with teaching staff outside of class time.