Live online video sessions have become the replacement for face to face meetings. This will become your new classroom, staff meeting, interview, assessment or review tool. As such, it is important that you keep in mind some simple rules and guidelines when interacting in these platforms.
While this new communication environment may seem a bit relaxed (shoes and trousers optional), that does not mean it is void of rules and guidelines. We should all practice proper etiquette when on the internet aka proper netiquette.
MUTE (& UNMUTE) YOUR MIC
Background noises e.g. dogs barking, tv playing or a baby crying can disrupt an entire online session. Always mute your mic when not in use. Try to use a headset at all times or sit in a room that’s secluded from potential noises during your online session.
Also be aware of your mute status as you may need to turn it on before you begin speaking.
ELIMINATE BACKGROUND NOISE
We all know that the only time the dog decides to bark or the kids decide to be a bit louder than usual is when we get on that video call. Well luckily there is an app for that. While it may not eliminate the sounds of a jackhammer it does a really fantastic job of clearing out background noise that’s often quite disturbing in a video call. Best of all, there is a free version which give you up to 120 minutes of use per week! The name of the app is Krisp. There is also a Krisp Browser Plugin which you can install and configure to use on software such as Zoom, Skype or MS Teams!
BE AWARE OF YOUR BACKGROUND
An online video chat opens a window into your home or room. That means, other participants can see what’s happening behind you. Pay attention to where you’ve set up your online call and if possible alert the members of your household that you’ll be in an online session for the next hour. Use a virtual background if the video chat tool allows it e.g. Zoom.
AVOID CROSS TALK
Talking over someone in a video call can sound garbled and or confusing to other participants in the call. It is always best to wait one or two seconds until someone has finished speaking before you begin. Use the ‘raise hand’ feature available in some chat tools to request that you be allowed to speak.
SPEAK CLEARLY AND SLOWLY
Coming across clear and understandable online is the key to an engaging and successful online session. We speak much faster in person than we should when online. Time is often of the essence during online sessions, so the less you need to repeat yourself the better. Keep some water nearby to sip regularly as this prevents your mouth from becoming dry during an online session.
SCRIBBLES & ANNOTATIONS
Some video conferencing platforms allow users to write / scribble on the screen. Hosts of the meetings should have control over this feature and only enable it when necessary. Attendees in a video call should be aware that scribbles are seen by everyone and should not be done during a meeting or lecture unless if you have been given the OK by the host to do so.
KNOW WHO YOU ARE REPLYING TO
Some messaging tools allow you to reply to a single person (privately) or to reply all. Be sure to note who you are replying to as your message may end up going to the wrong person or group of people.
SECURE YOUR BANDWIDTH
Online video streaming often requires an amount of bandwidth for it to work seamlessly. It is recommended to pause any other bandwidth intensive activities e.g. large file downloads, Netflix etc. while you’re sitting in or conducting a classroom session online. Often a reboot of your router a couple hours before your session can help clear up any possible issues that may occur during your call.
Use proper language, grammar and spelling. Avoid using slang and text-speak.
If you write a long answer in response to a simple question, it’s unlikely that anyone will spend the time to read through it all.
You may be called upon at any time to answer a question, so make sure you’re listening at all times. Also, before posting your question to a chat or discussion board, check if anyone has asked it already and received a reply.
Treat your colleagues with respect in all communications. Respect the privacy, diversity and opinions of others online. Be respectful when opinions differ from your own; feel free to disagree, but do so in a polite manner.
Represent yourself well at all times. Be truthful, accurate. Avoid plagiarism and run a final spell check. Limit the use of slang and emoticons especially if in an interview or submitting an assignment.
Address others by name or appropriate title and be mindful of your tone. Treat people as if you were in a face-to-face situation. Writing in all capital letters is often equated to shouting or being rude.
KNOW YOUR VIDEO CHATTING SOFTWARE
Get to know your software before you make or join your very first online classroom, meeting or interview. Test the audio and video settings before you actually join the call. If possible, have a test call with a colleague to make sure everything is ready for your next live session. This is extremely important if you’re going to be the host of the call as you would be seen as the expert of the software.
RECORDING OF SESSIONS
If you intend to record an online meeting for future reference or share with those who missed the session be sure to let others know or seek permission before recording.
After an online session it may be useful to send an email to attendees on key topics discussed and outline the next steps especially if they are required to do any follow-ups or assignments before the next call.
USE STANDARD FONTS
Not all fonts are meant to be used in chat rooms especially if you are trying to get a valuable point across. Use standard fonts such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman and use a size 10 or 12 pt. font.
SARCASM & TEXT DON’T MIX WELL
Don’t write anything that sounds sarcastic even as a joke, because without hearing your tone of voice or even seeing your facial expression, your peers might not realize you’re joking.
Although you’re at home, it is recommended that you are appropriately dressed, at least from the waist up as this is the part of you that will be seen on camera. Prepare yourself as if you were going to meet the person face to face. And, if you happen to ignore your attire from waist down, remember this before you stand up or walk away from your camera.
DRAWING THE LINE BETWEEN PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL
Now that we are communicating with each other in the same medium that we often use to share our personal lives, it is important to note that a line should be drawn on what is communicated where. Personal social media accounts should not be the place to ask school or work related questions, nor should any comments be made on someone’s personal social media account that can be considered an invasion of privacy, cyber stalking, bullying or otherwise. It is quite ok if your friend request is not accepted by a teacher, co-worker, classmate or other.
We should aim towards applying the same standards online as we do in public. In simple terms, this means that the values society has in place against hate speech and bigotry, child exploitation, and child pornography, copyright violations and other forms of theft, remain intact. Values around courtesy, kindness, openness, and treating others with the same respect we wish to receive should also be adhered to.4