A lot has changed in the last few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As schools and colleges transitioned to online learning at a rapid pace, virtual etiquette has become more important to understand and practice.

It’s important to recognize that a virtual class or meeting is still a class or meeting. So you want to conduct yourself with the same level of professionalism and respect as you would in person. Following the guidelines below will make sure you’re prepared to participate in a virtual environment.

Virtual Classes/Meetings

  1. Is your computer working? Check that your devices are working and have the necessary programs to participate in a virtual environment.
  2. Be presentable. This means that you’re dressed your best, there is enough lighting so that you can be seen and your location is quiet and clear of distractions. Don’t forget to pick up your dirty clothes!
  3. Nothing is worse than being late. You’ll feel unprepared and rushed. Arrive or “log in” a few minutes early to allow time to fix any technical issues that arise. What’s that saying again – If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re early, you’re on time.
  4. In a virtual environment, it could be difficult to know when to speak. A good rule of thumb is to raise your hand before speaking. This is a non-verbal way of saying “Can I have the floor?” Then be sure to let the group know when you’re done speaking by saying something like “Thank you.” or “I’m finished now.”
  5. Mute! When you’re not speaking, mute your microphone so we don’t hear your cat asking for treats.


  1. Use your MU email when corresponding with instructors, staff, classmates, and other university entities. It lets us know that you’re in fact an MU student and not spam.
  2. Use a brief but descriptive subject line. Instead of “Question about the paper” or even “Why can’t I access the assignment you posted last night?”. Try “ PSY132 Research Paper Question”.
  3. Ever send a half-written email prematurely followed by an apology email? Leave the “To” box empty until you’re finished drafting your message. If you accidentally hit send, it won’t go anywhere!
  4. Be cautious when using humor, sarcasm, or slang. Tone can be lost in the written word and emojis don’t help.

Discussion Boards

  1. Read all posts before replying. Knowing the context makes you more informed.
  2. Give credit where it is due. Without credit, it’s considered plagiarism – even in discussions.
  3. Avoid short responses but don’t write a thesis. Discussions help you learn through in-depth conversations. “I agree.” – to what? Why?
  4. Be respectful and open-minded. Avoid harsh remarks or insults. It’s ok to disagree but do so respectfully.

It’s always best to use common sense when communicating virtually. In the same way that you would conduct yourself in person to make a positive impression, do the same in a virtual environment. A lot of what we communicate is non-verbal (body language, tone, etc.). Be aware and intentional with how you conduct yourself virtually and your experience will be a positive one!

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