Good practices and appropriate behaviours on the virtual campus

The University of Melbourne is committed to a safe, inclusive and respectful community.

Whether in the virtual classroom or the connected community, all members of our University community are expected to behave in ways that promote a supportive, inclusive and effective learning environment. For students, this means adhering to the standards set in the University’s Student Conduct Policy and Student Academic Integrity Policy, and modelling the behaviours outlined in the Student Charter.

This guide sets out some of the ways these principles and standards should be applied in our virtual campus environment. For each online class you are in, your tutors and lecturers may set local standards and additional expectations specific to your learning environment.

General online behaviour

Ensure that all content you share is respectful, inclusive and polite, as outlined in the above policies. Racist, sexist, bullying, and discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated in any format.

It’s important to remember that how you present yourself online is a part of your professional identity. When interacting on University sites, you are expected to adhere to the following standards:

  • Identify yourself using your full name and be sure to sign emails or other communications where your identity might not be clear.
  • Use full words and sentences and avoid informal abbreviations and slang.
  • Consider the audience for your communication – for example, it might be okay to use a meme on an informal discussion board, but this is best avoided when communicating with your subject coordinator about your studies.

You should also familiarise yourself with the University’s guide to appropriate behaviour on social media.

The Australian Government initiative eSafety has partnered with Universities Australia (UA) to combat online abuse and its impact on students and staff at universities. Access the toolkit for students to see how you and your peers can help each other to stay safe online.

Online tutorials and Zoom meetings

Your online tutorials and Zoom meetings are classes and you should attend these and behave as you would in a physical classroom setting. This means:

  • Dress as you would when attending a class on campus.
  • Try to find an environment in which you will not be disturbed during your class and where the background will not be too distracting for your classmates. If you use a virtual background, ensure it is appropriate to the classroom.
  • Use of a headset with headphones and a microphone is encouraged. These help to improve audio quality for you and your classmates and prevent disruptions to others in your environment. Where the class content may be sensitive or confidential, headphones are essential.
  • Unless otherwise instructed by your teacher, connect with video to your Zoom meetings. This helps enhance community and improves your learning experience. Sometimes ,if internet bandwidth is problematic, it might be necessary to revert to audio, but you should always try using video in the first instance.
  • Mute your audio until you wish to speak. This reduces background noise for all participants. Zoom can be temporarily un-muted by pressing the space-bar when you wish to speak.
  • Raise your hand if you wish to ask a question. Do this on video or use the ‘participants’ tab in Zoom to raise a ‘virtual hand’.
  • Think about your actions on-camera and try to remain as still and attentive as possible to avoid distracting your classmates. Remaining still (including limiting any background movement) also helps reduce the required bandwidth.
  • Don’t share Zoom meeting invites, IDs or passwords. If there is someone missing from an invite list, notify the host.

For more information see Student privacy guidelines for Zoom.

Online discussions

In some classes, you may be asked to contribute to interactive discussion boards. Below are some ways to ensure that everyone can get the most benefit from discussion boards and maintain standards of behaviour:

  • Use complete and grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs, and avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and other internet slang. Refrain from using all-caps (as this signifies yelling at others).
  • Try to restrict posts to a single idea to allow threads to be created and keep posts as short as possible. You should edit your post so that it is clear and concise, avoiding waffle and stream-of-consciousness writing.
  • When creating a post or typing an answer, think about how you can create and add value. Avoid creating many small posts (eg just posting ‘thank you’ or ‘I agree’).
  • Try to express your ideas clearly and give others’ the benefit of the doubt. Tone can be difficult to read in text, so avoid sarcasm and satire where there is a danger they may offend if misunderstood.
  • Allow others space and time to react to the material under discussion and try not to dominate discussions. Respect the views of others in the same way as you would in a physical classroom.

For more ideas for on getting the most out of your online discussions, review the guide to online collaboration.