Respectful online environments

Running live online classes is hard work for you and sometimes for your students as well. But at UTS, we’re always inclusive and respectful of others and this includes online.

Publishing abusive, offensive, vilifying, discriminatory or harassing material online in any form will not be tolerated, and will lead to consequences and possibly exclusion from UTS.

UTS Student Rules, Section 16 – Student misconduct and appeals

Wherever possible it’s important to inform students of this fact but especially for students new to university. You can do so by showing the respectful online environment slide at the start of your Zoom sessions or simply making it available on a page in your Subject Site in Canvas.

Security measures in Zoom

Last year UTS put into place several security measures for Zoom to protect you and your students. As with all online platforms, Zoom must be used in a secure way.

That means we need to consider secure behaviour first.

Before starting a Zoom session

  1. Try to find out who is coming to your meetings ahead of time
    • You can limit who has access to the Zoom meeting ID rather than having to share it with all students in your subject.
    • Send them a reminder with the respectful online environment slide.
  2. Familiarise yourself with the security features of UTS Zoom
  3. Inform students that they can only join the Zoom session if they are logged into Zoom using their UTS account (the SSO option in Zoom). Send them the Getting Started with Zoom page if they aren’t sure what you mean.
  4. Familiarise yourself with the UTS Counselling and Student Services Unit referral grid

During the meeting

  1. If someone tries to enter as a guest, even if you recognise their name, don’t admit them. It may seem harsh but you did tell them ahead of time that they had to use their UTS account.
  2. Remove someone you don’t think should be there. If you accidentally admit someone whom you think shouldn’t be present, click on their name and select “Remove”.
  3. Block someone you’ve removed from re-entering.
  4. Lock the meeting after a certain time so that no-one new can come in.
  5. Something goes awry, what to do? Sometimes you’ve followed all the security rules but something unexpected and unfortunate happens. What are your options?
    • Remove the person responsible
    • Remind students of counselling services available at UTS
    • End the meeting – you have the power. If you think a situation is getting out of control and you forget what to do (we panic, it happens), click the big red button “End meeting for all”. You can always restart it again.

You can also find this information in our resource on managing disruptions during your Zoom session.

After the meeting

So something bad did happen, what are your next steps?

  1. Check the UTS Counselling and Student Services Unit referral grid to double check your options
  2. Report student misconduct
  3. Report sexual harassment

Why disrespect occurs more online

It’s no secret that our behaviour online is often worse than in it would be in person. This is a complex issue and much has been written about the causes and solutions: are we not equipped evolutionarily to cope? Do we have a communication skills deficiency? Does social media simply create a critical lack of self-awareness? With many students spending a large proportion of their time online, it’s becoming harder to distinguish between behaviour which may be considered acceptable on social media and behaviour which is acceptable in the classroom.

Unfortunately, we need to start with the premise that what we do online should be done with utmost vigilance and security in mind.

Mental health

Sometimes, bad behaviour online is a manifestation of mental illness. Accommodation, finances, the pressure of studying, or simply feeling isolated can all detract from a sense of self-determination.

Consider what you can build into your curriculum to support students’ mental health while they’re studying with you.

Join the discussion