Statement on Synchronous Learning Etiquette and Engagement

Created by Synchronous Learning Etiquette and Engagement Task Force

Dr. Margaret Dahlberg, chair

Gratia Brown, Faculty Senate Representative Kenneth Jimenez, Faculty Senate Representative Amber Ussatis-Aberle, Faculty Senate Representative Shannon VanHorn, Faculty Senate Representative Tanya Campos, Student Representative

Emily Smith, Student Representative 

Approved by Task Force on October 8, 2020

We acknowledge that the synchronous environment is challenging for all. The most important principle we should remember is to keep dialog open between faculty and students.


Guidelines for Students:


In general, students should make sure they communicate their needs to faculty and be respectful of faculty and classmates. This means:


  • Communicate your needs with faculty. 
    • For example, changes in scheduling/technology/living situations/health/family issues that might make engaging meaningfully in class difficult.


  • When possible, use your webcam.
    • This helps instructors gauge comprehension, pace their lectures, and makes the synchronous environment more engaging and effective for all.


  • If you have technology challenges, please communicate your issues with your instructor.
    • For example, if you have limited bandwidth, you may be present but not have your camera on.


  • Notify instructor of display and audio issues (not seeing a shared screen, not hearing audio, strange background noises, fuzzy pictures etc.) immediately and appropriately by vocal alert, chat message, hand signal, or email.


  • Limit the impact of your environment on the class. This means:
  • Wearing headphones
  • Keeping your background professional/blurred
  • Wearing clothing appropriate to the classroom environment and
  • Avoiding activities that may distract you or distract your classmates


  • Follow the instructor’s guidelines for synchronous class as set forth in the syllabus or other course materials, including procedures for initiating a discussion, asking questions, etc.

Guidelines for Faculty:


Set clear guidelines and procedures for synchronous students. Some example questions to address:

  • Do you expect webcams to be on? 
  • While encouraging the use of cameras, faculty must remember that students may have personal reasons for keeping their cameras off or lack the bandwidth to participate with the camera on.

  • If a student cannot have their webcam on, what is an alternative way for them to demonstrate their presence and engagement in class?

  • Should students join class muted, or unmuted?

  • Should students participate in class mainly through text chat, audio-only, or audio and video?

  • How do synchronous students initiate a discussion or get your attention?

  • How do synchronous students notify you if they’re having issues with technology?

  • How do you notify synchronous students if you are having issues with technology?

  • How do students demonstrate participation and engagement in your class? (small group discussions, asking questions, performing skills/tasks, etc.)

Develop tools and methods for managing classroom discussion and student engagement.

  • There are a variety of methods for allowing F2F and synchronous students to work together and to monitor student progress in real time – online collaborative whiteboards, shared documents for collaborative note-taking, quiz activities like Kahoot, and more – take time to find what works for your classroom environment and confer with fellow faculty members to find solutions.


  • Understand that students outside of the classroom sometimes have issues outside of their control -- roommates that barge in, or issues with Internet connectivity, for example. Treat everyone with grace and do your best to help those that are struggling but making a good-faith effort to participate in your class.

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