In a physical college classroom, there are basic etiquette “rules” or guidelines for what is expected from you as a student. You are to be in your seat several minutes before class starts, for instance, remaining quiet during the lecture so as not to disrupt others and raising your hand if you have a question. But what are the expectations when taking online college courses, when you’re appearing in class via video? Here are a few Zoom etiquette tips for students.

Upload a Profile Photo

Not taking the time to upload a profile photo to your Zoom account is the equivalent of showing up to a physical classroom with a paper bag over your head. No one else can see who you are, creating a less personal learning environment.  Before your courses begin, upload a headshot similar to what you’d use on a student ID or in a professional profile. While a photo of you with your significant other or pet may be okay for your social media profile, Zoom etiquette is to use a more professional image of you alone.

Be Mindful of Your Background

Your computer’s camera gives all other online attendees a view of your physical surroundings. Since it is a college classroom, it is important that whatever they see does not distract them from learning. This involves getting rid of anything that moves (having your cat’s play tower behind you may not be the best idea), also considering any photos or wall art that may be visually distracting.

Plus, it’s important that your background is respectful to others, which means removing anything that could be considered off-key or offensive. You can always use a virtual background if you don’t want others to see your surroundings or if you are unsure if they’re in line with Zoom etiquette. Then you can appear in class without worrying about what is around you.

Keep Your Distractions to a Minimum

One major benefit of taking online courses is that you can learn from home, while at work on your lunch break, or anywhere else you choose to log in from. Yet, this can also be a drawback if any of these environments tend to be busy or easily distract you. Before signing into your virtual classroom, find someplace that allows you to concentrate and turn your phone on silent. This enables you to fully participate in the class while also preventing you from distracting other students by looking around or focusing your attention on something else.

Dress As If You’re Going to a Physical Class

Since you don’t have to leave your house to take online college courses, it can be incredibly tempting to not even get dressed before signing in for class. But would you show up to a physical classroom in your pajamas? Probably not. So don’t do it in your virtual classroom either. Instead, Zoom etiquette for students is to wear clothing that aligns with what you want to portray as a professional in your program. At a minimum, at least get dressed.

Remember That You Can Be Seen at All Times

If you’re fixated on the instructor or another speaker in your online college class, it’s easy to forget that your camera is on and that all other attendees can see everything you do. However, keeping this in mind can help prevent you from doing something that others might not want to see. If you have to blow your nose, sneeze, or do anything else that could be distracting, Zoom etiquette is to turn your video off briefly. And while it may be okay to take a drink during class, save meals and snacks for when your camera is off. To help remind you that there are eyes on you, it might be beneficial to create a little smiley face image with the words “Smile: You’re on Camera” and place it next to your computer screen.

Mute Yourself When Not Speaking

Many of the microphones in devices today are so sensitive that they not only pick up on the most minute sound but also amplify it. So, something as simple as turning on the faucet to fill your water glass sounds like you’re standing next to a waterfall. To keep noises around you from distracting others, Zoom etiquette for students is to keep your microphone on mute any time that you’re not speaking. This also keeps unexpected noise disturbances from occurring, such as if a loud vehicle goes by or a neighbor rings your doorbell.

Raise Your Hand Virtually If You Have a Question or Something to Say

In a physical classroom, if you have a question or comment, you raise your hand to let the instructor know. In an online classroom, Zoom etiquette is to raise your hand virtually. You can find this feature under the “Reactions” button in the toolbar. This tells the instructor or classroom moderator that you have something to say, enabling them to call on you once they’re ready. Another option is to put your question or comment in the chat box. Again, keep in mind that whatever you type, everyone else in the class can see.

The Bottom Line on Zoom Etiquette for Students

Following these Zoom etiquette tips can create a more pleasant learning experience for you and all others in your online classroom. They also prepare you for virtual meetings with future employers. In this way, you can consider Zoom etiquette for students as practice for what lies ahead in your career, making you better prepared.