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Tips for attending online lectures

The tips given below can help ensure that online education will proceed as pleasantly as possible for you, your fellow students and your lecturer.

1. Settings and preparation

  • If you prefer showing a neutral background instead of showing the space you are in, you can change your virtual background in Zoom (via background & filters).
  • It helps everyone if all participants are on-screen; this improves communication and makes it more natural, because seeing facial expressions and body language really helps. If it is not possible or if you really do not feel comfortable turning on your camera, you can upload a profile picture in Zoom. This way, lecturers and fellow students are not resigned to looking at an empty screen if you choose audio only.
  • Would you prefer to hide your self view (via hide self view)? If you do so, you will not see your video on your own screen, but it will still be visible on other people's screens.
  • If you would like to choose a personal pronoun with which people can address you, please add it in Canvas, so that your lecturers and fellow students are informed of how you would like to be addressed. 

2. Distractions

  • Lecturers understand that you cannot avoid all distractions in the shape of noise, flatmates or pets. Where possible, try to limit background noise and put your phone on mute.
  • While attending lectures or tutorials in which the group is large, please mute your microphone while you are listening to the lecturer or a fellow student and only turn on your microphone when you want to say something. The lecturer will let you know what their preference is when it comes to microphone use in smaller tutorial groups.

3. Participating: listening, talking and sharing

  • Distance learning leads to it being much more difficult to feel like you are part of a group. Try to log on in time, so that you have some time to chat with your fellow students and your lecturer.
  • By keeping your camera switched on, you are more involved in the lecture and can more easily connect with your fellow students.
  • When you want to say or share something: 
    • Raise your (digital) hand.
    • Save your question or remark until the presentation is finished. 
    • Enter your question or remark in the chat window. Only use the chat for questions or remarks concerning the course matter.
    • Try to look into the camera when you are speaking.
  • Because of the nature of online education, it is sometimes difficult to maintain a separation between your studies and your private life. If you are collaborating with fellow students via Canvas or Whatsapp, try to agree on each other's availability and be aware that some students may be in a different time zone.

4. A pleasant and inclusive learning environment

Together, lecturers and students are responsible for creating a pleasant and inclusive learning environment. Please consider how you come across in the online environment and be respectful in your contact with your lecturer and fellow students. So:

  • Take time to listen to each other properly and do not interrupt each other.
  • Be attentive and try to understand other people's alternative ideas and opinions.
  • Take care when it comes to your written communication, such as chats, Whatsapp or discussions in Canvas. Remarks may come across in a different way than intended, without you realising it.
  • React to the content or what is being said, not to the person who said it. Criticise ideas and not people.
  • Do not make assumptions regarding others and avoid generalisations regarding social groups.

5. Undesirable behaviour and social unsafety

  • The Social Safety Support Guide for students provides information regarding which individuals and institutions you can turn to if you encounter an unsafe situation or undesirable behaviour.
  • If a fellow student is bothering you via Zoom chat, please ask the lecturer to change the chat functionality to host only or everyone publicly. 
  • If you feel excluded or discriminated against prior to, during or after a lecture, you can always contact one of the Faculty of Humanities' inclusion ambassadors via inclusion-fgw@uva.nl.