Netiquette in the New Normal Classroom

Netiquette in the New Normal Classroom

As students across the globe have transitioned to learning and studying from home, it's important that parents teach them proper internet etiquette or 'netiquette'. Here's a practical guide from the Director and Deputy Head of School of the Australian International School, David Esteban!

9 min read

Do you remember what it was like to learn something new and complex?

The curiosity that comes with first discovery. The feeling of the world opening up when nuances and subtleties are realized. The confusion, and perhaps despair that it can never really be fully understood. The thrill of having finally, through persistence, mastered it. We have all experienced this. It is part of what it is to be human.


Now, can you imagine having to go through that in several classes over several blocks a day? This is school. It’s a learning journey to be completed by every student in a range of different subjects over multiple years. This year, the learner and the teacher are not only discovering new things, but are also learning new ways of doing things. The struggle is real; but the learning taking place is truly monumental and goes beyond what any single academic subject can offer. There will be lasting changes in the ways we work and learn for years to come.


As many students the world over have transitioned to learning from home, teachers and schools have been working hard to ensure that learning is continuous and that students are able to thrive in the “new normal” classroom. We are all learning together in a new context, so it is important for us all to get on the same page. We must respect each other and the learning processes we are going through. There is a great article on this here


We must also be mindful of proper etiquette.


Etiquette is about relating and communicating, whether online or offline.

We often think of etiquette as being the same thing as manners, as a list of things we should or should not do in “proper society.” But etiquette is much more than that.


Etiquette is a standard of conduct in a given situation with the purpose of improving communication. We see this in the etiquette of different professions. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals often have a particular way of relating with one another that transcends company standards or codes of conduct. We also see this in different communities, such as church or advocacy groups, or even within a family.


Etiquette is said to be essential to any civilization, and has been the difference between success and failure in many aspects of life. Learning from home is no different. The good news is that while specific behaviors may vary, the value underlying these behaviors remains constant.


It begins with respect.

Respect can be displayed in a variety of ways in the online classroom, and here are some of the most important ways your AlphaKid can display etiquette in the online classroom.


An AlphaKid:

Netiquette in the New Normal Classroom

1. Comes in early

My father used to tell me that being 5 minutes early was being on time, and that being on time was too late. It may sound confusing, but the idea stuck with me and I strive to be 5 minutes early for any meeting I have. This holds especially true in online classes, where the time students and teachers have together may be limited.  The first rule of success is showing up, and it is proper etiquette to show up 5 minutes early.


2. Checks the tech

The extra 5 minutes can be spent making sure everything is in order so that you can be ready to learn. This means checking the digital technology - the computer or other device, internet connection, etc. It also means checking non-digital technology, such as the textbook, printed modules and handouts, etc. Check to make sure everything is ready so energy can be devoted to learning. 


3. Listens first

It is natural to be excited and to want to share every thought with classmates and friends whom students may not have seen in a long while, but when classes begin, proper etiquette dictates that students should strive to listen first. The teacher has spent extra time developing learning activities which may have specific instructions, and these are not to be missed! It is common to experience a lag when using video conferencing software, so listen to make sure that everything the teacher, or a fellow classmate, has finished speaking before speaking.


4. Signals the teacher

Teachers want to hear many different things from students. We love to hear questions, comments, how students relate what we cover in class with their own lives. In a traditional, face-to-face classroom, we rely on this constant interaction as an important indicator on whether learning is actually taking place. When students have anything they would like to ask the teacher or share with the class, they should let their teacher know by signaling in whatever manner their teacher prefers. This may be a chat message, raising their hand in video chat, or by using some alert or emoji.


5. Chats responsibly

It has been said that nothing on the internet ever truly disappears. In light of this, it is helpful to remember that what is written is there for posterity. Any disrespectful behavior or foul language is to be strictly avoided. Particularly in a school context, this also means using complete sentences and striving for proper grammar and spelling. Polite words and phrases such as “please” and “thank you” are also expected.


6. Takes a risk

All these rules should not get in the way of learning. To be very successful, it is important to also take risks. Everyone, including the teachers, are new to teaching and learning in this context and there are so many opportunities to use the range of information and applications available on the internet to enhance learning and creatively display what skills have been developed. Go beyond what is expected of you. You can set your own expectations for yourself. Take that risk and stand out!


This is a basic guide, but you may be faced with a situation that is completely new, with no standards for behavior set at all. When faced with an uncertain situation, remember to act from a place of respect. Respect for the teacher, for fellow learners, and, crucially, for yourself. Do your own work. Learn at your own pace. Engage authentically with the class, focus on learning, and the success will follow.


About The Writer


David EstebanDavid Esteban

David has extensive experience in the development and implementation of transnational programs across basic education, vocational education and training, and higher education at the bachelor and graduate degree levels. His passion for delivering the best of global education practices is fueled by a love for learning.

David is a Director and the Deputy Head of School of the Australian International School, which, through a partnership with Haileybury School, delivers the Victorian Certificate of Education. He is the Head of Learning Area for Affective Education, which develops students’ abilities to discern and manage feelings, emotions, moods, attitudes and beliefs.

David is the Managing Director of the Asian Institute for Transnational Education, which delivers the Bradford University MBA in Manila, the Australian Catholic University Bcomm(Accounting) and various Certificate and Diploma Courses in management from the AWBT Group (Australia).

David spent 5 years on the board of the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce where he chairs the Education, Training and Labour Committee


The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.

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