An etiquette guide for the virtual classroom

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

While the first day of the semester is dedicated going over syllabi and establishing a common understanding of classroom expectations, no such thing was ever done in the transition to online classes.

Here are a few recommendations for in-class conduct at “Zoom University.”

Use the mute function.

While you may be able to get away with whispering snide comments to your friends in class, no such mischief is possible in online classes. Your audio is equally accessible to everyone in the call. The clanging of your family cooking in the kitchen or even the sound of your own typing may be ambient noise to you, but it is highly disruptive to everyone on the other side of the screen. Keep yourself on mute unless you are talking.

Be aware that you are still visible.

Although taking online classes means getting to get an education from the comfort of your own home, retain some sense of professionalism. As comfortable as sitting through a lecture in bed is, make the effort to sit upright just like you would in real life. It will help you stay awake, too!

It can be easy to feel untouchable and maybe even invisible behind a screen, but again, everyone can see you. You may be even more noticeable on the gallery display than you used to be in your seat in the classroom. Be aware that what you’re doing can be distracting to others.

Using your phone is not any more easy to hide than it was before. You may be holding your phone outside of the video crop, but your face is still turned downward and is unnaturally illuminated by blue light. People, including your professor who may grade for participation, can tell you are on your phone.

Stay active in class.

Taking class online puts the world at your fingertips. Our laptops are in front of us, begging to be used. As tempting as multitasking during class may be, it will be harmful in the long run. By dividing your attention between multiple tabs, you are less likely to retain anything your professor is lecturing on. Don’t forget the value of the classes you are taking, even though they are no longer in the form you are conventionally used to.

In the online setting you may also feel less inclined to participate in class discussion. Whether it be nervousness in coming off mute or uncertainty of whether you may be interrupting someone else, it is important to overcome in order to retain a sense of the classroom setting. Cut down the awkward silences in class, give your professors something to work with, and engage in the discussion!

While online classes are an unexplored terrain for many of us, we can still close the semester with a quality educational experience. Online classes offer a whole new way to engage with what we’re learning and the people we’re learning with.