Are you abiding by the Online Code of Behavior?

We have all entered a ‘new normal’ where most of our time is spent virtually. Virtual engagement might not be that new to working people but for students, the phenomenon of online classes was pretty unusual. Yes, online classes existed before but the entire student-teacher fraternity deviating from their traditional classroom teaching style to e-learning, even in those parts of the world where technology was a far cry, was fairly unfamiliar. To some, it came as a masked advantage that now they could just turn off their cameras and skip classes whilst getting the attendance, others found it miserable in the absence of the classroom environment.

But what was common for most of the students was blurring the boundaries of classroom decorum. Essentially, amidst a global pandemic, people empathized with each other more and there was much less stringency, but as students, we should never forget that there are etiquettes for online classes as well. So let us check, what comes in OCB (Online Code of Behavior) or as netizens call it Netiquette.

1. Tone or Tone deaf?

There is an urgent need to understand that the way we speak to our friends or classmates online isn’t the correct way to speak to our teachers. Your tone may be perceived as impolite or your messages may seem casual. Students may be familiar with virtual interactions, but most teachers are not. Hence, it is important to maintain usual classroom decorum even in an online environment.


2. Respect is a one-way street when it comes to the professors.

One needs to respect everyone’s opinions. Students might find themselves in conflict concerning the opinions of fellow classmates and professors but there is a fine line between having a disagreement and disrespecting other’s opinions, this line shouldn’t be crossed. Students and teachers should also remember to respect each other and give everyone an equal opportunity to express their opinions in a discussion. Students, especially, should seek permission before speaking, e.g., use the ‘raise hand’ button in a Zoom meeting if they have questions or opinions.


3. People are watching you.


Always remember while sharing a post or typing a message that nothing ever put up online is private. Anything once shared is going to be there for a long time so choose the appropriateness of the content wisely. Taking care of one’s image in the real world is much easier than in the virtual world especially at a time when day-to-day life is heavily influenced by the online world. Don’t just reconsider while sharing your personal information but as well as others because you never know what might affect the people around you in what way.


4. Concise your points.



More often than not, in the flow of words, people lose the context of the point they were trying to make. Precision is the key to get your point across. Unnecessary words lead to misunderstandings, so keep it short and brief and this is especially important when you are in a virtual classroom due to lack of visibility or even persisting connection issues where someone might face issues with audio/video.


5. Professors aren’t your friends.



When the classes take place online, students tend to forget the required formalities such as using your professor’s titles. Though it should be common knowledge that one doesn’t call their professor by their names unless it is stated by them to do so yet many students tend to overlook this area. Professors aren’t our buddies, we can’t address them in whichever way we like or converse in a vilifying tone.


6. All caps or no caps.


Messages written in all caps are mostly considered rude or angry so unless there is an absolute need to highlight something, it is better to refrain from those. It is also necessary to avoid abbreviated texts like ones used in chat platforms or social media.


7. Choosing the right area and attire.



Taking online classes is a lot more convenient than going somewhere to do the same but it doesn’t give us the leverage to dress-up inappropriately or disrespecting the entire class by attending the class in some distracting location with an unclean background. It’s not necessary to wear formals or coveralls but wearing proper clothes as one would in any college/institution is the right direction to go to. Along with the attire, choose the location where you will take your classes with some thought to the background neutrality and noise.


8. Background noise


Some things are beyond our control and background noise is one of them. In these kinds of situations, make sure you mute yourself if you are not needed to speak at that time. Disrupting the class doesn’t go down very well with other students as well as the professors. It definitely causes distractions for both the students and the teachers. If you have doubts on a certain topic then send a message on the chatbox but don’t fill in the chatbox also with repetitive questions as that is considered impolite.


9. Assignment submission



The assignment submission is not that tricky and mostly everyone follows but since it is a part of online classes, we will be mentioning it here. Each professor has their way of keeping a track of their student’s assignments, therefore, the instruction is given to the students to submit the assignments in a certain way. It is of absolute importance that the teachers specify their choice of submission methods and, on the other hand, students follow the teacher’s instructions such as maintaining the subject line, the format of the assignment, having a formal email-id if the college/school doesn’t provide a separate id for the students. Though having a formal email-id is always beneficial in case of academic purposes or for their careers.


10. Are you sleeping through your classes?



What is the benefit of attending the class and sleeping through it or doing something else while the class is going on? Newsflash, your participation level will eventually reveal itself when the professors are grading your assignments. But there is a fine line between participating and obstructing the teacher’s flow. Sometimes, the teachers take the complete lead in the class, and other times they expect students to share their thoughts and inputs. It is necessary to know when the class is in discussion and when it is time to listen to the teacher without disturbing him/her but this doesn’t mean that the students should become passive spectators. Remember, active learners always present a great motivation for the teacher as well as the classmates.
With the transition to online learning, which is most definitely here to stay, it is important to pick up the netiquettes. The unwritten rules and guidelines of the internet help the students with proficient communication with the teachers. The tone, privacy, classroom decorum, choice of words in messages, and the student’s visual imagery, all come as a part of the online code of behavior or code of conduct. Lastly, “Do not say or do online, what you would not say or do offline”.

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