A student’s guide to online etiquette

Student sits at a computer

Editor’s Note: Do you have a question about distance learning or coping with school in these challenging times? The Den is starting a new feature called “Ask Kelly,” and each week Kelly Browning, an early childhood education/special education major and student ambassador at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, will answer questions from the Mercer community. Email her at kelly.l.browning@live.mercer.edu or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.

The other night in my online class, our professor took a few moments to discuss online etiquette. I appreciated her doing this because what may seem like a normal thing to do in the privacy of your home may distract others when in an online classroom. While you may not realize what you are doing is causing a distraction, it’s important to ask yourself, “If I was in a face-to-face class right now, would I do this?”

Here are five things you can do to help optimize your online class session for everyone:

  1. Mute your microphone. Computer microphones can pick up all sorts of noises (whether you want them to or not). Please make sure you turn off your microphone during classroom discussions. Raise your hand when you would like to speak, and then turn the microphone back off when you are finished.
  2. Be camera ready! Make sure your attire is appropriate and you are not grooming on camera (putting on makeup, curling hair). This can be a distraction to your classmates and may cause you to miss important content.
  3. Stay in one place. If you were in class, would you get up and walk around the room randomly? Furthermore, would you take your classmates with you? When you pick up your laptop and walk around, attention can be drawn to you, rather than on the professor.
  4. Face-to-face class rules apply. Can you talk on the phone during class? Does your child come to class and play and wave at your classmates? Do you generally listen to music or watch television during class? The same rules should apply in an online class. Stay focused on the lecture, take notes and be a part of the discussion. This will boost your chances of success in the course.
  5. Please stay on topic. In most classes, there is a lot of material to cover. Many professors have PowerPoints or guidelines to help them stay on task and maximize your class time. Going off topic can lengthen the time you are in class and can also cause professors or students to lose track of the discussion topic.

Following these simple guidelines will help to optimize your online learning potential and will also make class time more effective and engaging.


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