Virtual Classroom Etiquette (for Professors)

How our college content experts may benefit from guidance in how to provide their classes online

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Most of our work worlds drastically shifted overnight. We now live in the world of virtual meetings and online classes.  We have never been more exposed, and the need for self-awareness has never been more necessary.  And this is definitely not what you signed up for when you agreed to be faculty on campus. If you’re like me, you’ve already been privy to (no pun intended) some surprising etiquette situations with colleagues or students. Common sense for virtual meetings and online class is not so common. Considering the new normal for communication, I wanted to spotlight how to remain professional when we’re working in our private spaces.  Take this all tongue-in-cheek.

For the article I wrote specifically targeted at students, I highlighted some key tips for success. In case you aren’t familiar with general etiquette for online learning, here are the bullet points:

  1. Be mindful of mute
  2. Dress to impress
  3. Be on time!  
  4. Visibility – we see everything!
  5. Being stationary
  6. Pay attention to nonverbals
  7. Know your environment
  8. Understand the purpose of the meeting.  

Want to read more about each topic? Check out the original article here.

But since you are now hosting your classes online, you may need to get creative too!  Your leadership during this time will be paramount to the success and productivity of your meeting or class.  There is nothing worse than hearing several folks in the background while someone is giving a presentation or lecture.   Here are some great tips for facilitation and managing your online classes:

  1. Give a quick tour.  This may sound silly, but it needs to be done.  For someone who is new to Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. they may not know where things are.  Show them before you get the presentation started!  This needs to include how they mute/unmute, how they turn on/off video, the “raising a hand” button, or where the chat feature is.  We’re all going to be pros with this before too long!
  2. Establish ground rules.  You can whip out Robert’s Rules of Order, or you can simply state:  “Please keep on mute, the purpose of the meeting is x, and we’d like to spend x amount of time listening, then leaving x amount of time for questions.  If you have a question, please type it in the chat box.  And thank you for being here!”
  3. Have an agenda.  If you are only hosting a meeting or class, but not a panel, you need to have an agenda.  Either have it created and distributed prior to the meeting/class or ask for audience participation within the first few minutes.  If there are specific topics that participants or your students want to discuss, make sure they’re discussed.
  4. Place all participants/students on mute.  In the beginning of the meeting, remind folks to remain on mute.  You must be aggressively on top of making sure that those who aren’t talking, are muted.  If they aren’t, you are dealing with extremely distracting call, especially if you have many participants.  
  5. Settings are important.  If you are hosting a panel, make it so that the panelists are the ones that are visible and/or distinguished.  You can change the settings to include only those who are presenting to be visible.  If you do that, they encourage all participants to “say hi” in the chat feature so you know who was in attendance.
  6. Keep time!  If you are hosting a panel, it’s important to ensure there is plenty of time to facilitate all panelists answering predetermined questions, and then leave time for a participant Q&A directed towards the panelists.  
  7. Encourage participant engagement.  This goes back to #1 for group facilitators.  Have them raise their hand to be called on, or type in a question in the chat feature.  If it’s a panel, meeting, or presentation you want to get participants involved.
  8. Most importantly – be assertive!  As the moderator or facilitator, you can’t be afraid to hurt people’s feelings.  You can control turning people’s audio on or off.  You can show who is visible on screen.  You can redirect the discussion if it goes sideways.  You can keep on task and on time.  If you are the leader, you must take charge!

We were forced to shift to doing virtual interactions overnight.  Now that we are in the thick of it, it’s important to make sure we don’t lose motivation for work, or lose respect for ourselves and others because of our online behaviors.  Just because COVID-19 has working from home, doesn’t mean that we need to lose our professional selves in this madness!  Speak up if you see someone who may need a little guidance in these areas.  There is nothing more productive than an uneventful Zoom meeting!

If you wish to read the full article, you can check it out here.

For questions or comments contact Joanna at 970-218-9958 or via email.

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