Students on a Study Plan

This page provides additional resources for staff whose students have been granted a ‘Study Plan’ and are unable to be on our campuses due to the travel ban, in self-isolation or other medical requirements.

Be mindful that many students are facing a stressful situation. Many will know people who have suffered the effects of Corona virus and the impact this has had on their daily lives. Although in New Zealand we often freely discuss contentious issues it may not be appropriate to be candid about this subject in your lectures.

It is important to be aware of:

  • Time zone differences. E.g., China is four (4) hours behind New Zealand so students may not post on discussion boards etc straight away.
  • Internet connections, quality and access may vary.
  • Some technologies and databases are not available in China e.g., YouTube and Google Scholar. Refer to using VPN and FlexIT to access technologies restricted from off-campus and blocked from various countries.
  • Using Canvas Group to manage the learning for a group of your Study Plan students. This allows staff to communicate separately to Study Plan students and offer additional support in the Group space.


Communication and engagement


Tone and style

Coronavirus does not discriminate, therefore try to use language referring to location, rather than ethnicity. Use ethnically neutral language, e.g., refer to “students on the Study Plan”, rather than “Chinese students”, or “on-campus students” and “distance students.” Remember that some students might be in transit or have travelled to New Zealand but are in self-isolation.

Given that the students will be accessing the course materials and announcements purely online, be mindful to use clear language:

  • Ensure your weekly communication is friendly, succinct and uses simple language.
  • Use red, bold, italics, exclamation mark and capital letters in the body of your text sparingly.
  • Use bullet points where possible when communicating directly.
  • Use meaningful headings to chunk information.
  • Communicate with empathy – acknowledge that the students are in a difficult situation.
  • Do not use acronyms, jargon, colloquial language.
  • Keep your communication clear and unambiguous.

We suggest you:

  • Use communication tools such as Canvas Announcements, Discussions, Chat and Piazza to provide special messaging for students on a Study Plan so they do not feel isolated and have additional support.
  • Familiarise yourself with the staff remote teaching readiness checklist. The page lists required technologies provided by the University in order to connect to the campus network, communicate with your students, and provide course resources and assessments.
  • Explore the University core teaching tools and alternatives to prepare your course for remote teaching using core university tools. 
  • Consider setting up virtual office hours, with the use of a WeChat conference or using Canvas Conferences (be mindful of time zone difference).



If you require live-streaming and chat of small-group work, you can use video conferencing in WeChat (also available from within China). We recommend that you practice using WeChat with a colleague before attempting to use it for the first time with a class.

Download WeChat to your mobile phone Using Google Play Store or iPhone App Store. The App uses voice/video over IP so it does not incur mobile calling rates, though make sure you are connected to WiFi so that it does not use your mobile data either.

  1. Create a WeChat account.
  2. Create a Group in WeChat, using your course name (e.g., EDCURRIC720).
  3. Get a QR code for your group for students to access the video conference.
  4. Embed the QR code image in your Canvas page.

A detailed guide on WeChat.

Other features of WeChat.

Students work

Group work

Managing group assignments 

Consider whether the group work component is entirely necessary for Study Plan students, i.e., can the task be altered to an individual presentation submitted online? Otherwise, use Canvas Groups to coordinate remote collaboration. This allows targeted announcements from staff, student-student discussions, and file sharing. Read this article about group work from UC Davis on best practices for managing this form of assessment in Canvas.

  • If the course uses Piazza, assign Study Plan students to a separate Piazza group.
  • If there are enough remote students to form their own group, they can collaborate with China-based platforms like WeChat. Avoid discussing sensitive topics on WeChat.
  • If there are not enough remote students for a group, or if the nature of the group work requires some physical presence (e.g., data collection), pair remote students with local groups and assign a “buddy” student to act as a local liaison.

These approaches are most effective when lecturers can coach students in processes for effective group work.

If the group work absolutely requires physical presence (e.g., materials work) the project or task may need to be redefined for these students.

Labs or studios

Where possible, record demonstrations through lecture recording or the Mobile LESU Recording Units.

Depending on the nature of the work, you could also consider:

  • Audio-only recording with increased lecturer narration and description.
  • Running separate sessions only with those students who consent to being recorded for this purpose.
  • Running a live session with Canvas Conferences. Note: Canvas Conferences can be recorded but the recording is only stored for two weeks.

For tasks involving specialist software, consider using screen capture using BB Flashback or remote software access (FlexIT).

If this is not appropriate, options include:

  • Delaying lab/studio work.
  • Alternative assessment tasks.
  • Online virtual labs/simulations (where already available online and accessible from China).

We do not recommend live streaming because of logistical hurdles associated with internet access in China, but if you do then consider pairing remote students with a local buddy to interact and ask questions for them through WeChat. Avoid discussing sensitive topics on WeChat.


Consider recording tutorials through opt-in lecture recording in classrooms where it is available or the Mobile LESU recording units.

Consider the provision of “virtual office hours” for questions,comments or support for remote students. This will help set boundaries for affected students to openly contact you. Be aware that the time zone for all of China is 5 hours behind NZ.

Online facilitation of discussion requires advance planning about what prompts and questions will encourage a more tutorial-like experience.

We do not recommend live streaming because of logistical hurdles associated with internet access in China, but if you do then consider pairing remote students with a local buddy to interact and ask questions for them, using WeChat. Avoid discussing sensitive topics on WeChat.

See also