Should You Send That Emoji? And 8 Other Things To Know Before Your Online Class
All caps or no caps? The rule of online class etiquette is not that hard to follow. Here are 9 tips to get you started.
Published 19 Jan 2021
The pandemic has forced many schools and education institutions to turn to online sessions.
The problem is, many students find themselves unfamiliar with this new medium of communication, even if they are tech-savvy and know their way around computers. The reality is that communicating with your lecturers and peers online requires a different set of guidelines and etiquette.
Here are some key things you need to do during your online classes to avoid infuriating your lecturers.
#1. Have all your notes ready
You’d never walk into a lecture hall without your notes, books and pens, so why would you enter an online class unprepared?
Make sure that you have all the things you need for class within reach. You don’t want to be going in and out of frame in the middle of the lesson just because you forgot your pens and papers. It can be distracting — and even rude — to your lecturer.
#2. Be on time
Being punctual is all the more important in an online class setting because there’s really no other way for the lecturer to know if you’re ready for class or not. Unlike normal classes, they won’t see you loitering around waiting for lessons to begin and they can’t be expected to check on everyone every time class is about to start.
On top of that, you won’t have your friends to help you fill the gaps if you miss anything. A simple peek at your friend’s notes may help during physical classes but you can’t exactly do that with online sessions. Sure, you can always text them but that can distract them from the lesson.
#3. Turn on your camera
Depending on your lecturer, some may prefer that you turn on your camera while others may prefer you have it off. If they didn’t state a preference, it’s best that you turn it on.
Turning on your camera ensures that you’re actually present. Your teacher doesn't have to wonder if you’re actually listening to them or if you’re watching something on Netflix.
It’s also a great tool for self-accountability. Since you have the camera turned on, you’re less likely to goof around and play truant.
#4. Turn off your microphone
Online classes have many participants and ensuring that the lesson gets to everyone can be hard. This is especially true if everyone has their microphone turned on.
The background noise from one participant may not be distracting but it’s a different story when everyone brings their own background noise to class. It can muddy up the lesson and drown your lecturer’s voice.
So, unless you are speaking, help your lecturer and fellow classmates out by muting yourself if you’re not speaking.
#5. Identify yourself
While it may be funny to you, it can be tiring for your lecturer to have to identify which “Lord Fart” they are talking to. Always put your real name on your chat ID to make it easier for others to identify you.
On top of that, it can really be helpful if you start your communication by introducing yourself. You don’t have to do this every time as it can get very tedious. A simple introduction when class starts would do fine.
#6. Don’t spam the chat box
The chat feature has made it easier for us to communicate with one another. However, not all chat boxes are equal. Some have a specific purpose and in the case of your classroom’s chat box, it’s to help ease the communication between you, your classmates and your lecturer.
As such, avoid treating it like a normal chat box. Don’t spam it with casual messages and memes as it might drown out important messages about class and assignments. Treat it like how you would treat communication in physical classes. If it’s not relevant to the class, keep it out of the chat box.
#7. Understand common communication netiquette
Your lecturer and classmates are still your lecturer and classmates — even when your class has moved online. This means that you have to maintain the same decorum when communicating with them, regardless of the setting.
Here’s a couple of communication netiquette you should know:
Do not use all caps: This is equivalent to real-life shouting. So, unless you’re the type to shout at your classmates and lecturer, learn to type with proper capitalisation.
Use proper grammar: Saying goodbye to physical lessons does not mean saying goodbye to proper grammar. There’s still a standard you are expected to abide by. Use proper grammar when communicating for both verbal and written communication.
Write clearly: The absence of live reactions and body gestures can make communicating a lot harder online. As such, be as clear as possible to minimise the risk of a misunderstanding.
Avoid sarcasm: Again, it’s hard to read your tone through text. While you may feel tempted to be sarcastic, avoid it at all costs. This will only lead to misunderstanding and unnecessary conflict.
Use emoticons: Emoticons are great and convenient tools to help set the tone of the conversation. Do note that some lecturers may feel it is unprofessional, so make sure to check with them before you use them.
#8. Keep everyone updated
Can’t make it to class for some reason? Confused about certain aspects of the group assignments?
We’ve discussed at great lengths the importance of communication in online class. It’s really the only way to know if everyone is on the same page. Thus, keeping everyone informed and updated is important.
Whether you’re out sick, or you need help understanding the lesson, don’t hesitate to shoot a quick text to your lecturer or classmates. This way, you won’t leave others wondering if you’re present during class or if you still haven’t started on the group project.
#9. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in real life
If you only want to take one rule to heart, take this one. Don’t do or say anything online if you wouldn’t do or say it in real life.
Having a screen between you and everyone else may make you feel invincible but that does not give you the licence to act as you wish.
You may think it’s fine to stay in bed while attending your class but would you actually do that with physical classes? Every time you’re about to do something, ask yourself if you would do it in real-life.
Are you ready for your lesson now? Online class is new territory for many people. If you’re not sure about the proper way to conduct yourself, you can always ask your lecturer for the basic guidelines to follow.