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Etiquette and Safety Guidelines for Successful Videoconferencing

Institutional Effectiveness, Strategic Planning, and Distance Education Office

Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary

2 de octubre de 2020


When teaching or participating in a synchronous online class using videoconferencing, it is
necessary to keep in mind some guidelines to ensure its success and avoid negative experiences
or legal problems. The Institutional Effectiveness, Strategic Planning, and Distance Education
office of the Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary (IATS) has developed this handbook
of Etiquette and Safety Guidelines for Successful Videoconferencing that may be useful to faculty
and students. Although this handbook is not intended to be an exhaustive study on the subject, it
offers basic recommendations to be taken into account to succeed in the task. We urge all
teachers and administrators to carefully read this short document and put it into practice to offer
a quality class that exemplifies the high standards of our institution to the glory of our Heavenly
Father. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the IATS Institutional
Effectiveness, Strategic Planning, and Distance Education office. We will be happy to assist you in any way possible.

Why do we need to think about security aspects of videoconferencing?

With the advent of COVID 19, many aspects of education had to adjust to the new reality and
along with these adjustments came new challenges. The use of videoconferencing to deliver
classes has become a safe alternative to face-to-face course offerings for which we are all
grateful. We safeguard the health of our students while continuing to offer the quality education
for which we are known.
Despite all this, the question of safety also came up. The security of our students is a high priority
for our institution. Asking participants to turn on their cameras from their homes opening their
most intimate space (the home) to the public is a great responsibility that we must respect.
Accrediting institutions or government agencies require evidence that students are taking
classes and therefore request that cameras be turned on. This can be challenging in some
circumstances. Consequently, we have identified ways to verify this requirement without having
the cameras on at all times. With this in mind, we have developed this “Standard for Successful
Videoconferencing Handbook” to minimize any risks that may arise and to ensure a safe and
reliable environment for our students.
Because IATS offers courses in different countries, it is necessary to emphasize that these
guidelines are simply the minimum to be followed. Each country and culture has other laws and
regulations governing student privacy and security practices that must be followed at all times.
This handbook becomes an additional element for such purposes in different countries.

Rules to be taken into account when teaching via videoconferencing

As a teacher, it is your responsibility to be prepared to deliver your designated classes clearly
and understandably. For this reason, the following tips are offered to provide effective and safe
videoconferencing for our students. For your convenience, they will be divided into before,
during, and after videoconferencing sections.

Before the Videoconference:

1. Pray

a. It is always important to dedicate our workday to our Creator and Heavenly Father.
This should be a constant habit in our lives. Pray for your students, connection
stability, and for God to use you at all times.

2. Set the stage:

a. The room should be well lit. Keep in mind that too little or too much lighting is
detrimental to your class. Also, avoid using a window or brightly lit space in the
background. This can adversely affect your transmission as students will have
difficulty seeing you. It would be preferable to position yourself with an open
space (window or door open to the outside) behind the camera if you need the
b. Few distractions. Although we may like to place eye-catching artifacts on the
walls or video backgrounds with interesting movements, these can cause
participants to focus on those aspects rather than the message. A background
with few or no distractions can be more effective in this case (less is more).
c. Place with as little noise as possible. Avoid as much as possible be near areas
that may have excessive noise. Places near busy streets, noisy machinery, or
places near groups of people are not recommended.

3. Find a place where the internet signal is acceptable.

a. WIFI or cable. It is preferable to have the computer connected directly to the
router since the WiFi signal tends to be slower and more unstable. If this is not
possible, look for a place where the WiFi signal is strong.

b. Have Plan B. If possible, have a plan B if your internet signal fails. Platforms such
as Zoom and others offer the ability to make phone calls over video conferencing.
If you don’t have a backup internet signal, have the phone provided with your
videoconference on hand so you can continue on the phone until your internet
signal returns.

4. If you are on time, you will be late. Log in to the videoconferencing platform in advance.

a. It is recommended that all teachers enter the platform at least 10 minutes in
advance to perform technical tests (microphone, camera, lighting, signal quality,
among others).
b. It is also advisable to activate the waiting room so that as students connect, you
have the control to allow them to enter when they are ready. It looks
unprofessional for students to join the videoconference and find the teacher
performing technical tests.

5. Camera position. Since many use cameras that are built into laptops, take into
consideration the position of the camera in relation to your eyes. If you are higher than
the camera, the camera’s direction will be from the bottom up, so participants will be more
focused on your nostrils than your eyes, making it a distraction.
6. Microphone quality.

a. Although you are not expected to have a high-quality microphone, we must
consider the quality of sound coming out of your computer. One of the details to
take into account is the audio level of the microphone. If it is too loud, the sound
will be distorted. If you are too far away from the microphone, the participants will
not hear your message.
b. Check if your microphone creates static or makes noises when you move.
Sometimes headset microphones tend to wear out, and when you move the cable,
you will hear choppy or static.

7. Wear clothing that does not interfere with the camera. Sometimes presenters wear
clothes with lines, squares, or intense colors that can interfere with the quality of the
camera or the students’ computers. Not only does it make the images look weird, as the
camera constantly needs to refocus, but it also increases the internet signal consumption.
It is recommended to wear solid-colored, non-lined clothing.

During the Videoconference:

1. Set the rules for the videoconference.

a. Once you allow students to log on to the platform, review the rules established for
videoconferencing at the beginning of each class. Make it a routine so that
students can keep it in the back of their minds at all times. Rules such as
microphone policy, camera on policy, permission to go to the restroom, food while
in class, among others.
b. The camera is on or off. IATS and HFU recommend that participants turn their
cameras on. It is recommended that all students keep their cameras on for the roll
call at the beginning. During the lesson, ask students random questions. When
doing this, students should turn on their microphones to answer. If the student was
not present or was not paying attention, it will be noticed immediately. Note:
remember that there is a signal delay which may delay the response a bit. Be

2. Indicate whether you will be recording the videoconference. Participants must be
aware that they are being recorded for educational purposes. This means that they can
replay the recording whenever they need to from the learning platform to review the
mentioned material. This recording will only be used for the class and that specific group.
It is strictly forbidden for students to record screens. Students who do so may be subject
to sanctions by the institution.

3. Microphones and headphones.

a. Require your students to use headphones (earphones) as much as possible to
avoid the possibility of audio feedback.
b. It is recommended that all students have their microphones turned off while not
speaking. Most platforms allow the presenter to have control (turn off) the
microphones. Do not be afraid to do so.
c. Remember, there is often a delay in the signal. Don’t despair if you ask a question
and the participants take a while to answer or turn on their cameras.
d. Do not play with pens, shuffle papers, or type or make unnecessary noises near
the powered microphone. This affects students because if they have hearing aids,
it may cause them discomfort or affect their understanding of the audio.

4. Facial gestures. Communication is essential in videoconferencing, but it is not
recommended that everyone has their microphones on. Therefore, it is recommended
that the participants and the teacher use facial expressions constantly to indicate whether
they understand or have doubts. This avoids the sound congestion of many microphones.
5. Use CHAT. Often, presenters tend to be interrupted by students asking questions that
have already been answered. One tip is to encourage students to use the chat function to
ask questions, and if a student knows the answer, he/she can help him/her. Once the
teacher pauses, he/she can answer any unanswered questions or clarify any doubts seen
in the chat.
6. Set your screen to Gallery view. Platforms such as Zoom allow the presenter to view the
screen in two ways: presenter view and gallery view. It is always recommended that the
presenter’s screen be in gallery view to see the students’ cameras at the same time and
their facial expressions. The Zoom platform, for example, allows you to view up to 49
cameras on a single screen.
7. Require appropriate clothing. Do not allow students to lie down or wear inappropriate
clothing. What is known as “Zoom Clothing” (i.e., appropriate clothing from the waist up)
should not be allowed in your videoconference. If noticed, the presenter should
reprimand the participant.
8. Do not discuss private topics of the participants in front of the group. Some platforms
allow you to open breakout rooms or divide video conferences into small groups. If you
need to discuss a point, you can create one of these (Breakout Rooms) and discuss these
points in private.

After the videoconference:

1. Close the platform. Make sure that you have turned off the recording and closed the
platform. This prevents any participant from staying inside, and the recording continues,
and personal situations are recorded.
2. Pray. Thank God for the blessings demonstrated through the videoconference.
3. Make the recording available to students. Usually, the Zoom platform grants access to
the recording of the video lectures after you finish coding. The platform will send the
teacher an email with the link to share the recording. If you are using the Moodle platform,
the recording will automatically be available for students to access. If, after 24 hours, you

do not see the link, you can contact the Information and Technology Services Office
([email protected]) for assistance in making the link public.

We hope this handbook will be of help to you in your teaching work!