Proper Etiquette For Taking Synchronous Online Classes

Published on: November 03, 2021

Students often cite the flexibility of asynchronous online degree programs as one of the most significant benefits. However, not all programs can be completed in this manner, and sometimes students must be online at a specific time to attend classes with their fellow students. This can be a daunting experience for any students who are not familiar with this method of teaching. However, some simple etiquette rules to follow will make the experience less intimidating and ensure you get the most from the online lecture. Following proper etiquette will also prevent you from being a disruption to your teacher or fellow students.

What Communication Methods Are Commonly Used For Synchronous Online Classes?

One of the most common methods of attending online classes is video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom. Zoom's cloud-based video conferencing service saw more than 200 percent growth during 2020 and has become the standard for most online meetings.

Make Sure Everything Is Set Up Correctly

The last thing you want during an online class is to struggle with technical difficulties. Therefore, take some time beforehand to familiarize yourself with the tools you will be using, especially if you have never done so before. Doing so will decrease the chances of something going wrong during the class and causing disruption for your lecturer or fellow students.

Leaving your microphone unmuted can cause distracting background noise, so make sure to keep it muted if you are not required to speak. Instructors can typically mute everyone as needed, but it is still good etiquette to monitor this from your side. It is also a good idea to check your internet connection before attending an online class. While the bandwidth requirements for programs such as Zoom are relatively modest, you can end up with choppy audio and video if you are not careful. Free online services, such as MySpeedCheck ( can help you to assess your connection speed.

Webcam Etiquette

Using a webcam to communicate with fellow students and the lecturer can be intimidating, especially if you are not used to doing so. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you need to dress appropriately for online classes if you appear on video. Most universities don't mind casual attire, but this doesn't mean students can dress inappropriately.

When attending a synchronous class, it is also important to avoid causing any disruptions. Some of the most common causes are pets or other people in the background of your video, which can distract everyone else. While it is not always possible to attend an online class from a professional-looking space, you should keep your surroundings free from distractions. Zoom has a virtual backdrop feature that can make this task easier, so be sure to familiarize yourself with these types of options.

Remember Your Manners

Just as you should be well-mannered and respectful when engaged in face-to-face conversations, the same goes for online interactions with your lecturer and peers. Avoid speaking out of turn or interrupting others and refrain from being negative. Lecturers will usually provide an opportunity for students to raise questions or concerns, but if you need to speak, make use of the option that Zoom and other software have, which allows you to "raise your hand" virtually. If online interactions occur via typing instead of voice chat, be careful to follow the proper etiquette by not using all-caps or making jokes that could be misinterpreted as rude. Sarcastic humor, in particular, does not translate well when using text instead of voice. Finally, it is important to stay on topic during online classes to avoid wasting everyone's time.

Be Punctual and Be Present

With synchronous online classes, it is essential to be in attendance at the specified time. It is your responsibility to show up for the class on time, and logging in late can not only cause you to miss important information but could also disrupt everyone else. Because online courses can be recorded and reviewed later, some students think they don't have to be on time or pay attention. Unfortunately, it can be more time-consuming to do so instead of simply paying attention during class. Of course, there's more to attending an online class than just showing up on time. While taking part in the class, be sure to pay attention and avoid any distractions. Just because it is easier to multitask while attending an online course than an actual class doesn't mean you should do so. Try to actively participate when expected to do so instead of becoming a passive spectator.

Check Your Emails Regularly

While you shouldn't be browsing the internet, watching other videos, or checking your emails during synchronous online classes, keeping an eye on your inbox between classes is essential. Depending on the format of your online courses, your lecturer might email students important supplementary information or update them about any changes to the schedule. Also, if your online course uses different forms of communication, be sure to keep an eye on these to stay updated.


These online etiquette tips should help you in most situations, but remember that not all online courses are the same. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the instructions typically included in your course syllabus and talk to your instructor if you have any other questions. Mastering online communicating etiquette is not only beneficial for your studies but will also be a valuable skill once you enter the workforce. More and more businesses are turning to virtual meetings over face-to-face communications, and the skills you learn in this regard while studying are transferable.

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