Virtual Class Etiquette for Students

Virtual Class Etiquette for Students

Written by  Iwona Gniadek, Instructional Designer

The following tips are meant to be shared with students. They can be shared as part of the course syllabus to set clear expectations for synchronous class netiquette, or they could be shared before each class. You might consider sharing the list on the discussion forum and have a conversation with students about mutual expectations. This might create some engagement with the list and encourage students to reflect on the recommendations.

Before class

  • Appearance. Dress as you would for any professional meeting or face-to-face class. Some people choose to focus only on their upper body camera appearance. Keep in mind, however, that in some classes you may be asked to stand up and perform kinesthetic activities, in which case you may not want to reveal your pyjama bottoms!
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Try to position yourself in a space in your home with an uncluttered background.  You may prefer to use a background wallpaper or blurred background setting. This way your true background will be invisible to others and won’t distract them, and will also offer a privacy shield for you. Be sure to test the suitability of your chosen wallpaper in advance.
  • Eliminate distractions. Mute your phone and desktop notifications, and close unrelated tabs in your browser. By eliminating distractions, you allow yourself to focus on one activity at a time, which conserves your mental energy and reduces fatigue during and/or after class.
  • Be on time. Better yet, aim to join the class a few minutes before it starts. You will have time to adjust your audio/video/seat settings and be ready for learning.
  • Edit your screen name. Use an appropriate name – your first and last name – so that your instructor knows you are present in class. Also, feel free to add your chosen pronouns.

During class

  • Audio. Mute yourself when you are not speaking. It will help the class to proceed without accidental distractions, e.g., your phone rings, or a joyous sibling runs by you.
  • Wear a headset. A good headset not only provides you with better audio, but also produces a better quality for those hearing you.
  • Keep your camera off whenever possible. It will help you and others to stay focused and avoid being overwhelmed by looking at many faces simultaneously. However, do ask the instructor if that’s ok. Sometimes it might be important for learning to keep cameras on, e.g., in language classes.
  • Engage in the class. This may seem obvious, but it’s often not done. Listen to the professor, participate actively in activities and conversations, and take notes, preferably by hand. The more you engage, the more you take away. When you’re investing the time to join the class, why not make the most of it!
  • Make good use of chat. Use the chat to ask questions and comment on the lecture. While posting to the chat, avoid using caps lock as it’s seen as SHOUTING. Use emojis to emphasize how you feel, perhaps adding a smiley, a question mark, or a heart if you really like something 😊 Remember that the chat should be used for class-related questions and remarks only. Keep them on-topic and respectful of fellow participants and the instructor.
  • Be an angel or a helping hand. If anyone (including the instructor) is struggling, offer help if you can. Perhaps volunteer to moderate the chat and questions for the instructor – a useful experience to add to your resumé! Or exchange private messages with someone who is struggling with technology. An ability to quickly troubleshoot issues is a great skill to develop.
  • Use the raise-hand feature. The instructor will call on you when it’s your turn to speak.
  • Turn-taking. Avoid interrupting as speaking over fellow participants may cause audio distortions and delays. This can lead to a chaotic conversation, instead of one that everyone can easily follow.
  • Take advantage of breaks. Eat, dance, check social media, or play with your pets. Taking a screen break will give you both a mental and eye rest and reduce your screen fatigue.