Editorial: Manners still matter in online classes

Daniel Schwalm

Online classes are weird. All of us are still adjusting to the new ways our classes work, whether they’re Hy-Flex or entirely online. One thing is clear: Internet-based classes are going to make up the bulk of our college educations for the foreseeable future. Since it looks like we’re going to have to get used to this, we need to talk about what it means for students and professors to respect each other in online classes.

Many of us have seen a lot in online education that we never would’ve expected. From Saturday due dates to students licking their webcams in the middle of class, it often feels like we’re figuring out new rules as we go. When classes are mostly or entirely online, the line between being in and out of class blurs, and the schedule of a school day becomes less defined. Working these things out is a process, and we all need to remember to respect each other’s boundaries.

Professors, don’t set due dates on Fridays or Saturdays. Many students need that time to rest and preserve their mental health. Many also need to work on the weekends. The same goes for making assignments due at random times in the middle of the day. As a general rule of thumb, due dates should correlate with class times. Just because we’re working online doesn’t mean we can be expected to work at any time.

Also, please use Canvas. Some professors are trying to run their classes entirely through email. It’s chaotic and stressful. We need a centralized, organized platform for our classes. Don’t rely on students coming to campus to pick up assignments. Any work that can be made available online should be.

Finally, don’t assume that students have extra time to work on schoolwork now that so many parts of our lives have been put on hold due to the pandemic. Many of us have taken on increased responsibilities as a result of this crisis, from increased financial burdens to needing to help out vulnerable family members.

Students, be good to your professors. Many professors are making themselves more accessible to students by giving out their personal phone numbers. Respect them by not calling or texting them in the middle of the night. Many professors are also working hard on getting used to unfamiliar technology. Be patient with them. Not only is it difficult to transition to an online class, but it’s also difficult to keep a class engaged on Zoom. Don’t make their jobs harder by causing distractions.

For all of us, students and professors alike, the most important thing to remember is to be patient with each other. Boundaries are important, and it can be hard to figure out where some boundaries are now. We’re all learning and adapting as we go. Be respectful and understanding. We are all under more stress than usual, and we need to remember to be kind to each other. We can do this, but we can only do it together.