Creating and Implementing an Online Course Etiquette Appreciative Agreement: Recommendations and Insights for Updating Course Material and Social Expectations to Aid in the Transition to Online Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Open Teaching Materials
With the threat of COVID-19 risking the health and safety of the 19.9 million students and 1.5 million faculty studying and working at colleges and universities across the U.S., these institutions have had little choice but to replace traditional, in-person classes with online, virtual alternatives. This unprecedented rapid adjustment has come with many unexpected difficulties as neither faculty nor students were prepared to teach or learn virtually, respectively. Beyond the obvious challenges of converting course material and accessing resources, an invisible difficulty lies in the lack of social expectations for this unfamiliar environment. A majority of the students and faculty do not know how to properly interact in an online setting. The home environment creates a completely different set of norms and expectations, many of which can be distracting and deleterious to the classroom environment. Thus, there is a critical need to provide students (and faculty) with a set of expectations to help set the tone of the virtual classroom. In the absence of such knowledge, the virtual classroom will be at a disadvantage for providing an effective learning environment, disenfranchising, and causing irreparable damage to the education of millions of students across the nation. As such, this document provides a recommended etiquette template for faculty to use in their classroom. This document has been implemented, tested, and improved across several courses at Texas A&M University. We are sharing this etiquette template so that other faculty at TAMU and other universities can use it to test the tone in their virtual classroom.