Zoom Etiquette

Zoom Etiquette Guidelines

Many of us have some policies about behavior in our classrooms—often a mix of some basic rules and some community-generated standards meant to ensure a positive learning environment for all students. But what does that look like when your class is on Zoom, either for everyone or for some remote students? Your policies will depend on your teaching style and class environment, but here are some recommended pieces of Zoom etiquette that you might adopt or adapt for your class.

We recommend that you make such guidelines community-generated or -endorsed as much as possible, so you might present some of these in draft form and let your students discuss, revise, and make them their own.

The bolded items below are notes to you, indicating places where you might add something that is specific to your class situation and use of Zoom. So, please don’t point students to this page, but rather copy this template and paste it into your own document or Canvas site with your adaptations, removing/replacing the bolded sections.

Sample language only — Please adapt for your class

Add a preamble about the value of community in your class, your goals for communication, the role of professionalism/respect in your course and discipline, etc.

The guidelines below are intended to help us have smooth conversations in Zoom and promote a positive learning environment for us all.

  • Mute your microphone when you aren’t speaking.
  • Be mindful of background noise and distractions around you, as much as possible.
  • Adjust your camera and lighting so we can see your face well.
    • NOTE: This recommendation is debatable in some circles, since some people are sensitive to being on camera, but it might be vital to some classes, like language learning.
    • Please add a profile photo to your Zoom account, so we can still see your face when you turn off your camera.
  • Dress like you are coming to the classroom—no jammies, please.
    • This might be a good place to note professional standards if appropriate to your class.
  • Avoid multi-tasking and focus your attention on the class. You might want to minimize/close all other windows so you aren’t distracted by email or other applications. Turn off your phone or put it away; just like in class, please use it only if there is an emergency.
  • Enjoy a beverage, but hold off on having lunch or that snack.
  • Remember that you are always on camera. Need to yawn, sneeze, blow your nose, or something you don’t want us all to see? Mute your audio and blank your video for a moment.
  • All comments and discussions should be respectful of the instructor and fellow students; disagreements are fine, but personal attacks are not.
  • Don’t be a Zoom-hog. Be considerate in not talking over people, and give everyone a chance to speak.
  • Add something about how the instructor will call on people, or the procedures for talking.
    • Please don’t just interrupt the instructor or fellow students; that quickly leads to chaos in a Zoom conversation.
    • “Raise your hand” by putting a brief note in the chat window (“Question” or “Comment”). I will get you in the queue and call on you. If I am sharing my content, it is hard to see that chat window, too, so I will get to you when I stop to scan the chat for questions.
  • Add something about instructor expectations of using Zoom's chat function.
    • The chat window should be used only for class-related discussions—comments, sharing of resources, etc.—except for casual conversations at the start and end of class. Keep remarks on-topic and courteous. Remember that this is still our classroom.
    • Know that I may not be able to keep track of a quickly-flowing chat, so don’t rely exclusively on that to ask me a question.

Related tips and resources:

  • Be certain you are familiar with your other options for managing participants—muting them, allowing screensharing, moving them to the waiting room, changing roles/permissions, etc. Let students know how you will use these tools to manage the Zoom classroom to make things smoother for everyone.
  • Instructors can control various aspects of the chat tool in order to manage conversations or reserve it for questions. You can turn the chat off/on completely, turn off private chatting between students, and set “chat only to host” to reserve the chat for questions. And you can change these chat settings at different parts of a meeting, depending on what you are doing then (e.g., open chat before class, then changed to only-to-host). More on chat settings.
  • You can allow nonverbal feedback in meetings, but watching for the raised hand icon can be more difficult than watching a “chat only to host” window for questions; plus, the chat gives you the order of questions.