Guidelines for Student Camera Usage
Camera considerations and recommendations
Online courses with the option of meeting synchronously can benefit from using videoconferencing tools such as Zoom to engage with students. Using cameras during these sessions can help build presence, connection, and community, but can also come with several negative consequences for students. Students may have unequal access to the internet bandwidth needed to support camera usage or to cameras themselves. Students may also feel cameras are an invasion of privacy and not want to show their surroundings to others. Finally, constant camera usage can be a source of fatigue and distraction for students, taking away from their learning experience.
For these reasons, we recommend that faculty who would like cameras to be on during online synchronous sessions take several steps:
- Ask or request that cameras be used, but do not require that they be used
- Set clear expectations for camera usage and synchronous session participation from the start of the course
- Don’t rely on cameras to determine participation or attendance; instead, use active and engaging activities to do so (see resources below)
We recommend adding the following language to your syllabus so that technology usage expectations, including those for cameras, are established with students from the course outset.
Online Course Conduct
Please strive to be your best self in this online context: be respectful and patient with the instructor and your fellow classmates, just as you would in person. The Student Code of Conduct also applies in the virtual environment. Students are expected to enthusiastically engage in course activities, active note-taking, and discussions during the synchronous session. Students will interact with the instructor and classmates a great deal, primarily through Zoom. Please sign into Zoom using your first and last name. You may register a preferred name with the University and with your instructor. Appearing on camera also has implications for your classmates. Meetings without participants on video are less accessible, especially for students with hearing impairments. Students are encouraged to enable video unless their internet speed does not support it. You may choose to enable a neutral virtual background in Zoom to increase privacy.
Please mute your microphone when you are not speaking to reduce background noise. Please use a headset or headphones with a microphone when possible to improve audio quality. Please try to connect in a quiet, distraction-free place when possible.
Please stay on topic. Use the chat window for questions and comments that are relevant to class. Comments that are off-topic make it difficult for the instructor to address students’ questions about the course. Disrespect or hate speech will not be tolerated. Just like in an in-person class, respectful behavior is expected. Consider Zoom a professional environment, even when you're typing in the chat.
Use of Course Material
Students should not share the link to any recorded class session with anyone not currently enrolled in the course section. Students requesting the use of assistive technology for an accommodation should direct such requests to the Student Accessibility Center. Unauthorized student recording of classroom activities is prohibited. Students who engage in unauthorized recording, unauthorized use of a recording, or unauthorized distribution of instructional materials will be subject to the processes and procedures that uphold Community Standards.
You may download the materials (EXCEPT exam questions) for non-commercial, personal, or educational purposes only. Beyond this use, no material (including video, screenshots, files, and any other material) from the course website may be copied, reproduced, re-published, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any way without the permission of the original copyright holder. Unauthorized use of classroom recordings or screen captures of virtual classrooms– including distributing or posting them – is also prohibited.
OOL and FCIP have collaborated on a presentation about engaging students in online class sessions without cameras. The presentation covers pros and cons of camera use, why cameras are often a poor way to assess participation, and recommendations for activities that don't require camera usage. Visit "Cameras Optional: Creative Ways to Engage Students" to learn more.
Also see the Cameras Optional Infographic with summary recommendations and links to ideas for engaging students in online synchronous sessions.