The outbreak of the novel coronavirus is reshaping education across the globe. Since mid-March 2020, most public and private schools are shut. Students are at home; institutions moved to online schooling. Even at the federal level, this virus rocked education with the Education Department dropping all standardized testing requirements for the year. COVID-19 has created a modern crisis.
Though technology and methods of schooling changed, the nature of students did not. They are still going to act like students, whether virtually or physically. Their behaviour needs to be moderated to have a productive classroom. Otherwise, online classrooms may have users sending inappropriate messages, harassing each other, undermining lectures, or students could be just plain lost.
How can you keep an online classroom in order?
Online student communication is different from a face-to-face setting. A lot of online interactions are in the written form. Most communication is via texts and the rest through audio/visual mediums. Body language cues and immediate feedback from listeners are absent in an online class. Therefore, it is essential to have an online etiquette just as we do in physical classrooms.
Given how informal online communication usually is, it is essential to maintain certain boundaries in virtual platforms. Online interactions with their teachers still need to be distinct from ’students’ normal online behaviour; otherwise, there is a chance of getting misinterpreted. This distinction between pupil and instructor is useful for establishing a moderated online learning environment.
Introducing students to netiquettes would provide them with the opportunity to be respectful, polite, formal, proper, professional, and organized as they mature in a digitally dominant age. Hence, the importance of ’students’ exposure and acclimation cannot be understated.
So, what are the rules of eLearning for students?
Check Classrooms Expectations
When preparing a set of rules, first and foremost, it is vital to consider rules that you are comfortable with and meet the ideal “online” classroom expectations.
Follow the rules
Like your online college posts guidelines related to academic integrity and student expectations, online forums also have rules of conduct. Please make a point to read them every time, as they can vary from class to class, and follow them properly.
When prompting a communication in an online class that usually takes place in the text, make sure that identification is clear in all communications. Begin with a salutation “(“Hi, Jack”!”) and end with your signature “(“Mylie Kay, Sociology 101”.”)
Do not assume everyone understands where you are coming from
Sarcastic and witty replies are often the spice of in-person conversation, but it can not only lose its edge in an online classroom, but it can also bite; mainly due to the inability to observe body language and many other verbal cues!
It is also worth keeping in mind that your online classroom might consist of a much wider variety of people of all ages and cultures with varied backgrounds, lifestyles, and geographic locations, unlike a traditional school setting. With this in mind, review what you write before contributing to the conversation and ask yourself, “Will everyone understand my joke”?” Prefer using emoticons as they can convey feelings that may otherwise get lost in translation, especially humour
Protect Your Personal Information
Remember if it is on the internet, it is available everywhere; you might have heard this before, so be cautious while sharing anything online. Refrain from sharing personal information about yourself in a public online forum, especially something that could put your safety or security at risk—respect ’other’s privacy as well by not sharing any details without permission.
Keep Your Answers Short
The world is still developing etiquettes and rules around online interactions. Until such a time when we have more moderated online interactions, keep your answers short and on topic. You can also note your opinions and answers using the status indicators found in most virtual classroom platforms.
Courtesy goes a long way in any environment. For instance, when communicating via video, use your real names, raise your hands on the other side of the screen if there is no prompt button available, and wait to be recognized before responding. Use words like “please” and “thank you,”. Address the teachers and other virtual school students respectfully, even when you disagree, and avoid using all uppercase letters since that is considered the equivalent of shouting. For instance, (CAN I GET A BREAK?) can be misinterpreted as intense anger, while (Give me a break, please?) can sound more appropriate.
Be on Time
Online or offline, it is equally important and appreciated when one is punctual. Download any necessary software and connect and check devices like microphones or video cameras before the lesson begins. Also, close other applications on computers to avoid distractions and potential glitches or mishaps.
Do not Misuse the Chat Box
Chat boxes can be beneficial as well as a major source of distraction depending on how well students know and follow their classroom “netiquettes.” Students are likely to ask questions irrelevant to the discussion or talk about an unrelated topic, rather than asking a relevant question or giving an answer. Also, students need to understand the class chat box is not an instant messenger like a Facebook messenger or other social media chatting platforms. It is first and foremost a learning tool.
Submit Files the Right Way
Online classes do not ask learners to print assignments and hand them to their teacher in person, so knowing how to submit work online properly is the key to success. Online course instructors often establish certain rules for assignment submissions, like naming conventions and certain file formats to keep things organized and efficient; adhere to those guidelines. It is minimal effort that everyone, especially your teacher, will appreciate.
Watch Your Texts
In online communication, individuals are often anonymous. Sometimes while disagreeing with one another online, your words or expressions may get misconstrued, you could fall prey to treating someone poorly because of the distance technology currently creates. Therefore, it is necessary to use words wisely and to be kind, respectful, and polite in your comments—even in disagreements.
Organize Your Learning Environment
Set up a good environment that promotes learning. In terms of time, a class routine can help keep up the momentum so that successive learnings can reinforce each other. On the other hand, in terms of your workspace, set up your smart device with an enlarged video display and associated materials such as slides, and close other windows, especially e-mail and social networking sites. Keep a notebook or a note-taking app handy for jotting down essential queries and tidbits.
Do the Readings
It is too easy to neglect the required readings before an online class. Many students even adopt the attitude that the online lecture should be a painless way to be spoon-fed the material, but this should not be done. Otherwise, they may end up reading the textbook on their own. Most times, the lecturer favours you by assigning any selected paragraph to read rather than an entire book to help learners focus on the “meat” that is relevant. Completing readings helps learners come prepared so that they efficiently absorb the value-added from the multimedia presentation.
Get the Exercises Done
Another cliché that many students are likely to skip is completing the assigned homework on time because they know there is nobody to collect and grade the work, as done in a traditional classroom.
However, for computational in nature, there is the additional imperative to do the programming assignments devotedly. Also, if the assignment is not up to the mark, students get the luxury of tweaking it towards some variation that interests them but comes what may, it is well known that you must put in your time and effort to master the subject. Moreover, regardless of what subject you study, you ought to practice the work to be interdisciplinary.
Do the Assessments
Students must not neglect the quizzes and exams provided in addition to homework. It helps you know how well you are absorbing the material. This is the opportunity to make mid-course corrections, which are easier to execute in online learning. Moreover, a well-constructed exam can be a great source of learning in itself, particularly if you have to whip up your competitive instincts since this is likely to improve your retention. Researches also point to the benefits of testing in promoting effective learning.
There are a variety of structured learning approaches provided by online learning platforms. For instance, Coursera takes exams at set intervals. Integrate quizzes directly into lectures. This format promises feedback to the users and the providers, indicating what points need clarification in the associated discussion fora or supplemental short videos.