Guidelines for Online Communication

Rationale

The online environment provides both teachers and students with increased access to each other.  These guidelines are designed to provide students with the reasonable expectations they can have when communicating with any teacher in a virtual medium.  Emails, forums, groups, blogs, Google Apps, and RangiNet are all examples of applications or facilities that these guidelines are intended to cover.  Separate guidelines exist for the use of email.

Notes

These guidelines will evolve as the need arises.

The New Zealand Teachers Council Guidelines for the ethical use of social media also apply to how teachers interact in an online world.

Acknowledgements

Face to face class contact is the primary form of communication.

Individual departments will develop their own policies and have their own expectations for teachers around what is required and appropriate for their particular subjects.  These will include the type and frequency of feedback given by teachers to students.  Subject teachers will articulate these expectations clearly from the outset and regularly thereafter.

There will be varying degrees of online interaction.  It will vary from subject to subject, class to class, and teacher to teacher – some teachers will use it a lot, others a lot less.  It is up to the individual teacher how they will operate beyond their department requirements.  Students must accept and respect teacher individuality.

Hours of Engagement

Anywhere, anytime access provides teachers with flexibility.  They may access and comment on student work when they choose.

Teachers are not permitted to interact directly with students online between the hours of 8.30pm and 8.30am.

Teachers are able to provide feedback, comment, reply to email, etc. between these hours, but they may not interact with any student.  Similarly, students are not to attempt to engage in any direct communication with teachers during these hours.

Response Time

Students can expect teachers to respond to any online question by the end of the next school day (unless the teacher or student is absent).  The teacher can choose how they respond - the response does not have to be online i.e. it could be face to face in class.  The teacher is only required to give a single response - there is no compulsion for the teacher to enter into a dialogue but that is at the discretion of the teacher.  Teachers will exercise professional judgement.

Marking

Students may only send a teacher work to mark when the teacher has asked the student to do so, or if the student has made a prior arrangement in class with the teacher.

Other

Students who are absent may contact a teacher directly to request work. The teacher will use their professional discretion when responding.  Suspicion of abuse of this option will be referred to Dean.