When it comes to etiquette, it’s easy to think about setting the table properly, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and little more – or a lot more. But what do we mean by ‘Netiquette’? Do we all know what it is? Do we have the habit to use some Netiquette when we interact online as much as we would use etiquette in a ‘real’ interaction?
First things first. What is Netiquette? The word comes from net (meaning the Internet) + etiquette and it is the “code of conduct” of the online world.
Why do we talk about it now? Well, that’s quite obvious: we are living a weird time, where many of our interactions happen online, and even lessons sometimes move from the real classroom to the virtual one. This means that many things change in the way we interact.
Online lessons show us the inside of the pupils houses, but it also shows pupils the inside of the teacher’s house, which means that we happen to see living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and other rooms (I know, it may sound very weird, but if you read some of the online experiences that you can easily find online, you will find out that some students ended up using thew bathroom as a classroom as their house was too small, crowded and noisy to be anywhere else).
When we talk about Netiquette we need to keep in mind that many different areas are involved in it: not only being polite, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and seating properly, but many more aspect s of the interaction are involved.
In the last few months teachers have seen students wearing their pyjamas, eating during the lessons, disappearing from the monitor (‘Do I really have to ask if I can go to the toilet when I’m in my own house?’), we have heard parents shouting in the background, dogs barking, little sibling crying and so on. I’m positive that all of you have quite a lot of such episodes to share (and please, feel free to do it!)
Sharing a Netiquette code with your pupils and reflecting with them about the importance of these rules can help you create an engaging, respectful, and meaningful learning environment.
What are the most important rules for a nice online lesson?
• getting dressed properly before the lesson
• preparing all the materials for the lesson before it starts
• arriving on time
• keeping the microphone on mute unless asked by the teacher to speak
• keeping the camera on during the lesson
• raising hands before speaking
• tidying up the room in the background
• not eating during the lesson
• not going to the bathroom without asking for permission
• not using the chatroom to chat with friends
Of course, we have to keep in mind that students might have siblings’ home from school or day care or even their parents in smart working in a small house, and some flexibility and understanding might need to be extended during this season.
To involve all the students and to help them reflect on this important topic, you can start by revising the rules applied in class, think about the differences and share the children’s ideas about the new situation. You can have them make a poster (one for each student) with drawings and captions illustrating the Netiquette rules, and add new rules when needed. Once back in the real classroom, you can discuss the differences and have the children make comparisons between the two situations. It will be nice and useful for everybody to notice how big – but also how small – the differences can be!