The ABCs of Virtual Classroom Etiquette
When switching to an online school, children have many adjustments to make—including learning how to navigate a virtual classroom. As a Learning Coach, you can help your kids adapt smoothly and avoid embarrassment or misunderstandings by preparing them in advance. Using the alphabetical guide below should assist you in coaching your kids to become successful virtual classroom students—and help them start the new school year off right!
A is for Avoid Acronyms
Make your children aware that while they may be comfortable with using and reading common acronyms such as LOL (laugh out loud) and TTYL (talk to you later), not all users are as familiar with these abbreviations. Help kids understand that being clear by spelling things out will help them avoid confusion and misunderstandings with their teacher and classmates.
B is for Brevity
Explain to students that while participating in virtual classroom discussions, they should keep their answers short and on-topic. Students can also note their opinions and answers by using the status indicators found in most virtual classrooms. Clicking the “I agree” button can get a point across just as well as typing a message in the chat box.
C is for Courtesy
Courtesy goes a long way in any setting, including virtual classrooms. Help your children understand that their good manners should carry over to online meetings, too.
- Students should use their real names.
- Make sure your kids know how to raise their “virtual hands” and wait to be recognized when responding to a question or comment.
- Teach your children that even online you expect them to say “please” and “thank you.”
- Remind them to address the teacher and other virtual school students in a respectful manner, even when disagreeing.
- Advise students to avoid using all uppercase letters; this is often considered the equivalent of shouting.
D is for Ditching Distractions
Before a virtual classroom session begins, have your children eliminate environmental distractions that may divert their attention away from learning.
- Clear the room of playful pets or noisy siblings.
- Minimize background noise by turning off the TV and radio.
- Turn off cell phones. (No multitasking during class!)
- Remind them not to let the microphone broadcast unless they are asked to speak.
E is for Early
It’s important that virtual school students be prepared before class! They should download any necessary software and connect and test devices like microphones or video cameras before the lesson begins. Students should also exit other applications on their computers prior to launching the classroom software.
F is for Focus … and Friendships
Remind your kids that although the teacher may not be able to see them, you expect them to pay close attention. Make sure they do the following things:
- Focus on the classroom conversation and activities.
- Take notes on the information presented.
- Ask relevant questions to clarify the material covered or assignments given.
- Not join sideline chats with classmates when the teacher is speaking.
At the same time, Learning Coaches should recognize that virtual school isn’t all work and no play! By joining in class discussions, bantering with classmates, and working on group projects in the virtual classroom, kids can form new friendships and become part of a close community of online learners. If your family has time, be sure to encourage your children to join extracurricular activities that interest them, too.
G is for Good Intentions
Encourage kids to read and interpret virtual classroom messages with the assumption that teachers and classmates have good intentions. You can also assist them in developing good online communication skills by discussing the misunderstandings and problems that can arise.
- Explain how, without seeing their facial expressions, other people may not know when they are kidding or being sarcastic.
- Suggest that kids reread their own messages for friendliness and respect before sending.
- Advise them that what seems like a short or abrupt answer from a classmate (or teacher) probably doesn’t mean anger—the other person might just be busy.
- Caution them against feeling “anonymous” online and slipping into a mean or mocking tone—or revealing much-too-personal information.
Keep in mind that you may need to review this information (as well as the rules for Internet safety when they’ll be working online) more than once, particularly if your children are young, energetic, or boisterous. Although this may seem like a lot to remember, many of these “rules” are simply the electronic versions of traditional classroom expectations. Within a few weeks, these pointers will be second nature to your children as they become familiar with this new way of communicating with teachers and classmates—and their exciting new method of learning!
What pointers do you suggest for helping kids adjust to the virtual school environment? Share your ideas and insights in the comments.