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PTY Online Academy Etiquette Guide

Online Etiquette Guide

You are invited to be part of Vanderbilt University’s online community. The same courtesy and behavior provided in a face to face environment is expected in our online community. We want to provide an amazing experience for each of our students. As online learning may be new for some of you, here are some tips and guidelines.

For parents: Please review these with your student. You can help by providing an area designated for your child’s learning and participation during class time. This may include talking to other family members and siblings about “class time” interruptions and distractions and supporting your student by checking in (when they are not live) about how class is going. VOA encourages you to reach out with any concerns.

Live Synchronous Learning Guidelines

  • Prepare a space that is conducive to learning. Use a desk or a table. Set up your laptop or computer on a stable, flat surface where there is enough room to capture notes in a notebook. Consider having a water bottle nearby along with a pen and paper to jot additional ideas. You may also take notes in an online document if you choose.
  • Enjoy your class and interactions with classmates, the instructor, and the TA.
  • Be present. Don’t have side conversations, play video games, text others or the like during online learning time, group work, or other designated work times when you should be focusing on the content. Mute your audio when you are not speaking. This will help eliminate any background noise in your online classroom. Before joining the conversation, when you are ready to make a comment or ask a question, double check to make sure that you are unmuted.
  • If at any time you need to turn your video off, please let your instructor or TA know so that they understand you are still participating but just want to be off screen for a bit.
  • Do not eat during your live session. Snacking can be distracting to others in the class. If this is unavoidable, make sure you are on mute and turn off your video. There will be break times during online sessions for you to step away for a few minutes.
  • Turn your video and audio off if you have to step away for a break.
  • Wear appropriate clothing that is not revealing or offensive. Consider your normal school dress code and wear something that would be acceptable at your school (i.e., shirts with sleeves or wide shoulder straps, pants or a skirt – even if you will be sitting and may not be seen from your waist down; clothing without distracting slogans).
  • Breakout rooms will be used regularly during live sessions. Recognize that when moving to breakout spaces during class the groupings may be random or intentional. Random breakout groups allow you to connect with different peers. Intentional breakouts may be based on interest, choice, etc. When working with peers in breakout rooms follow classroom guidelines about what is to be accomplished. Consider having one person be the recorder, the time keeper, and the individual who shares out when groups return to the main room. Participate in breakout sessions and take turns allowing other voices to be heard. Bring others into the conversation. Don’t dominate or allow others to do all of the talking or work. Ask other people who have not participated to share their opinions. Join in the conversations.

Discussion Board Guidelines

  • Avoid funny or sarcastic comments, especially when in offline discussions as users may not be able to see your expression or know that you are kidding.
  • Use appropriate language and full words and sentences. Do not use emojis, abbreviations, text or twitter language, ALL CAPS, curse words (full or abbreviated), or slang. Consider your online discussion board and messaging as a professional work setting.
  • Don’t post anything you are not comfortable with anyone in the world reading. While you may be talking to your classmates in a protected site, you do not know what could accidentally get posted elsewhere for public consumption. Understand that anything in cyberspace is not really private, including emails.
    Check your spelling and grammar before you post.
  • Double check what you are writing before posting. Posts are hard to unread or in some instances take back. Ask: Is this relevant? Does this add to the conversation or thinking? Has anyone already said this or answered it? Is this said in a nice tone? Does this convey my thoughts accurately?
  • If you are struggling with the course or aspects of it, ask to communicate with the professor individually. Discussion boards are not the place to share private information, information about other classmates, complaints, or suggestions.
  • Be on topic and present. Don’t post off topic memes, images, thoughts, or the like. While funny or interesting, this distracts the group and takes away from the course content. If you want to have a place to express non-course related ideas ask your instructor if they can start a “just for fun and in good taste” discussion thread.
  • Be nice. Bullying, rude comments, and consistent disruptions is prohibited and cause for dismissal from the online course without refund.
  • Make sure you know whether you are intending to reply to an entire group or an individual person. Check who you are responding to before hitting send. If you make a mistake in sending a comment to the group or the wrong person, acknowledge it. Everyone makes mistakes, we are human. If you are not sure whether or not you should send a message, wait. Think about it. Save it in your drafts box. It is better not to respond than to respond and regret it later.

General Guidelines

  • Be kind and forgiving. This is a new experience for many people. We all make mistakes, misspellings, weird comments, and typos. We are at different levels of experience and understanding. Let go of your mistakes and the mistakes of others. No bullying, rude comments, jesting, unprofessional language, uploading of distasteful content or other inappropriate actions will be tolerated.
  • Be courteous and professional. Use words like “please” and “thank you” or “nice thought”. If you disagree or don’t understand use phrases like “help me understand how or why” or “how might you explain….”, or “That is an interesting idea.” “An alternate idea might be…”. “I think about it this way,…” Don’t use name calling whether it is about the person or their ideas. Seek to understand. It is okay to disagree respectfully or state then change your opinion based on further discussion.
  • Participate. You are a valuable part of this course and your opinion matters. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Speak up and ask if you don’t know something. Take advantage of online afternoon hours to talk with your professor and TA.
  • Be timely. Gather what you need and settle into your class space before logging into class or when working offline with other classmates on projects or discussions. Remind your family if needed of your live online schedule that day. Be on time for live class or meetings as well as online posts. The later you wait to post the harder it will be for thoughtful discussions to emerge. Showing up late to class can be distracting. If you do have to be late or you have to leave early on rare occasions, email your professor and teaching assistant to let them know.
  • Respect your privacy and the privacy of others. Don’t post the comments of others, course content, other people’s work, or photographs in public settings such as but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or the like. Don’t talk about others in your class in negative or identifiable ways – especially in public forums. Don’t post personal information about yourself or others in public forums outside of class. Don’t forward private messages to others who were not on an email or text chain except when needed to keep you or others safe and when adding an adult. Don’t record, video or capture images or voices of others.
  • Follow the guidelines outlined in your syllabus or by your instructor or TA.
  • Have fun. Enjoy learning. Take advantage of this opportunity to interact with and learn from content experts and others in your class who have similar interests and perhaps different backgrounds than you.

I have read the Online Etiquette Guide and Vanderbilt Honor Code in its entirety and agree to abide by the policies and procedures stated therein. I understand that students 18 years of age are required to follow the same guidelines set forth for minors as outlined in the Required Forms and course syllabi. Furthermore, I understand that any behavior/actions that negatively impact or have the potential to negatively impact the VOA online community as outlined in the Online Etiquette Guide or by VOA faculty and staff can be grounds for immediate dismissal without refund of tuition paid or reimbursement of any costs, in accordance with VOA policies and at the discretion of the VOA Director in conjunction with PTY leadership.