Class meetings that are conducted online provides students the opportunity to have a robust online learning experience. Not only are these meetings robust to whatever challenges the campus might be facing at the time (political unrest, wildfires, viral outbreaks), but more importantly, meeting online can be especially effective at creating small-group breakout opportunities that provide unique learning opportunities for students.  

We believe in the importance of the social aspects of learning: between students, and between students and instructors. We recognize that knowledge-building is not solely occurring on an individual level, but that it is built by social activity involving people and by members engaged in the activity. 

All students should review and follow the following recommendations for attending classroom sessions that are held online. 

  • Students are expected to join live class sessions from a study environment. 

  • In this environment, students should be on video, and should be connected with a headset. 

  • Coffee shops are unremittingly bad for attending live classroom sessions. We strongly discourage trying to attend from a coffee shop, library, or similar public space.

  • The general rule for setting your environment is, “Would this be OK if I were in Room 210, in-person, at South Hall?” 

For Video 

  • The video should be framed so that there is not extraneous movement in the background. While a roommate returning home might walk through the frame and not cause an undue distraction to class, a roommate juggling or preparing a meal in the background almost certainly would cause a distraction. 

  • If there is a window behind you, you will be backlit, and it may be difficult for your classmates to see you. 

  • We understand that for many of us, a bedroom might be the room in our home that is most conducive to being a study environment. This is fine! However, attending class while laying in bed is strange for your classmates; please sit at a desk. As well, your classmates might appreciate if you put your dirty clothes in a hamper that is out of the camera’s field of view.

For Audio 

  • While being on video is tremendously helpful for producing a human-to-human set of educational interactions, we will be principally communicating through spoken and heard words. As a result, setting up and utilizing your audio correctly is important. 

  • The best audio is captured by headphones with microphones — the type that are shipped with phones are fantastic for this task. 

  • After trying many, many pairs of headphones / microphones, the best combination of clarity and value are Apple Headphones (here with a 3.5mm jack to connect to your computer). There is no need to rush out a buy a pair, but there is also no need to ever spend more than $18 for great sounding audio. 

  • When you aren’t speaking, keep your microphone on mute to keep background noise to a minimum for your classmates. Visual distractions are actually relatively benign; they take on 1/30th of each students screen, and can be easily ignored. However, audio is fully blended and a single student with background noise is wholly disruptive for every student in the classroom. 

  • Zoom has a useful feature that you should enable, “Press and hold SPACE key to temporarily unmute yourself”. This works like a walkie-talkie — you press space to speak, and release to listen.


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