Online education has exploded in recent years.

These days, you can learn just about anything you want via your computer screen, which presents an amazing opportunity to teachers and students alike—as long as the teacher in question knows how to create a positive learning environment for students, of course.

One of the best ways to create said environment is to implement virtual classroom rules and expectations. In this article, we’ll talk about why rules and expectations are necessary and the seven rules you should put in place to facilitate learning.

Sound like a plan? Then let’s get started!

Do You Need Virtual Classroom Rules?

Technically, no, you don’t need virtual classroom rules. But if you want to build an effective learning environment, you should definitely create expectations for your students.

Doing so will help you minimize distractions, become more productive, ensure students grasp the material you share with them, prevent bullying, and more. We’ll talk more about these things in the next section. For now, can we agree that rules and expectations are good?

Great, now let’s discuss the seven virtual classroom rules and expectations you should have.

7 Virtual Classroom Rules and Expectations

As discussed above, virtual classroom rules for students will help you build the ultimate online learning atmosphere. The question is, which rules should you enforce? Let’s talk about that…

1. Be Prepared

You should expect your students to be prepared when they log into your virtual classroom. What does that look like? Students should:

  • Join From a Quiet Space: Your students should attend class from a quiet place that’s free from distractions. This will allow them, as well as your other students, to focus.
  • Understand the Software: Virtual classrooms require software. Students should know how to use said software so that they can participate in your lessons. (Note: we’ll talk more about software at the end of this article. Stay tuned!)
  • Have All Needed Materials: What do students need for class? Make sure they have pens, paper, their syllabi, and anything else they might need to learn effectively.
  • Complete All Homework: If you gave students homework assignments, they should complete them by the next time you meet. This will prevent delays.
  • Turn Off Other Devices: Finally, ask each student to turn off their phones, iPads, or any other device that could distract them and others during your virtual class.

The more prepared your students are, the better your virtual lessons will be. So make sure you make this one of your virtual classroom rules—and actually enforce it.

2. Show Up On Time

Students should show up on time, too.

In a traditional classroom, tardiness leads to one of two outcomes: either the student misses vital bits of information, which the teacher must reiterate. Or the entire class is forced to wait for the tardy student, causing general frustration, which is rarely conducive to learning.

Your virtual classroom is no different. When students fail to arrive for class at the appointed times, they show disrespect for you, their teacher, and their classmates. They also lower the quality of the lesson you’ve planned to teach them that day.

Think about it: you have a limited amount of time to educate your class.

Waiting for a single student to arrive, or having to re-teach them things after the fact, gives you less time to cover complex topics, students to ask questions, etc. These are not ideal scenarios. To prevent them, simply ask your students to show up for class on time.

3. Dress Appropriately

Most schools have a dress code. Why? Because certain clothing can distract students. So, one of your virtual classroom rules and expectations should be “dress appropriately.”

Here are the kinds of clothes you should ban from your classroom:

  • Pajamas
  • Tank Tops
  • Revealing Clothing
  • Clothes With Explicit Content

Instead of these kinds of garments, ask students to wear appropriate clothes that are comfortable to wear and won’t distract from the general learning experience.

To be clear, we’re not suggesting students wear school uniforms. That would be ridiculous, since your students attend class virtually. But we are saying that the clothes they wear can either help or harm their classmate’s ability to learn. Make sure it’s the former.

4. Mute the Microphone

You’d be surprised how quickly a virtual classroom can become noisy. (Hint: very quickly.) Unfortunately, noise distracts from the learning process, which is why you should minimize it.

The easiest way to do this, aside from asking your students to attend class from a quiet location (see above,) is to make sure students mute their microphones when they log in.

But what if the student needs to ask you a question? Not a problem. When students know how to use your virtual classroom software of choice, they’ll be able to unmute themselves at the right times. Just make sure they remute themselves afterwards.

Now, since you’re the teacher and will, presumably, have complete control over your virtual classroom software, you could mute and unmute students yourself. But we don’t suggest this. It may come across as authoritarian and cause your students to rebel.

Instead, add this to your virtual classroom rules and expectations list and ask your students to mute and unmute themselves when needed.

5. Turn the Camera On

Virtual classrooms are more effective when teachers and students can see each other. There are multiple reasons for this, including:

  • Connection: It’s hard to build a relationship with someone you can’t see. The best teachers connect with their students, which helps them want to learn.
  • Communication: It’s been said that 70% to 93% of all communication in non-verbal. You have to be able to see the person you’re communicating with to read visual cues.
  • Minimize Distractions: If you can’t see your students, they may be tempted to check their phones, read emails, etc. during your lectures, which won’t help them learn.

Require students to turn their cameras on during your virtual lessons so that you can see each other. If a student is hesitant to show their homes on screen, teach them how to add a virtual background. That way you can see each other, but you can’t see what’s behind them.

6. Minimize Distractions

Speaking of distractions, it’s your job as a teacher to minimize them.

We’ve already talked about a few ways to do this. You can ask students to dress appropriately and turn on their cameras, for example, which will help students focus on your lessons.

There are other things you can do, too, such as:

  • No Phones: The biggest potential distraction is the supercomputer in each of your student’s pockets. Ask them to turn off their phone, or, at the very least, silence their notifications inside your virtual classroom so they can concentrate.
  • No Eating: Food can be a major distraction as well—especially if a student eats a crunchy snack (like chips) and forgets to mute their microphone. It’s probably better if you make “no eating” one of your virtual classroom rules and expectations.
  • No Talking Over Other Students: You want your students to respect their classmates. One way to demonstrate said respect is by allowing others to speak. Discourage students from talking over each other, which is both rude and distracts from the constructive, educational environment you want to build.

7. Pay Attention

Finally, all students should pay attention during your virtual lessons. Otherwise, what’s the point? Here’s the problem: making students pay attention is difficult.

There are a few things you can do. As we talked about above, you can minimize distractions such as inappropriate clothes, cell phones, and food. You can also strive for eye contact. Students who aren’t looking at you are probably doing something less educational.

But, honestly, the best way to get students to pay attention is to engage them. So really, this falls into the “virtual classroom rules for teachers” section, not the “virtual classroom rules for students” one. But it’s so important, we want to talk about it anyway!

How do you engage students? You make the learning process fun.

You can do this by giving them exciting assignments, playing educational games during class, and asking them their opinions on the course material.

Build a Better Learning Environment

To educate students effectively, you need to create virtual classroom rules and expectations. As we’ve just seen, doing so isn’t that hard. It just takes time and determination.

But here’s the thing: you can’t teach online at all without a proper virtual classroom software. And if you can’t teach online, you won’t have any rules and expectations to implement.

When it comes to virtual classroom software, you can’t go wrong with ClickMeeting.

Our platform is loved by tens of thousands of people around the world because it’s both easy to use and extremely powerful. Sign up for a free 30-day trial today for full access to our tool—we won’t even ask you for your credit card information.

Once you sign up, you’ll be able to test every feature, including the collaborative whiteboard, polls and surveys, lesson recording, and Edu Mode. See you on the inside!

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Posted by Jacob Thomas

Content writer @ ClickMeeting

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