Expectations for Students
The University of Edinburgh has several policies in place that set out expectations for students when engaging both online and offline. It’s important to take into consideration these policies and strategies in all your online interactions.
Online Etiquette and Expectations for Engagement
As a student, you’ll use multiple online and digital communication technologies throughout your studies. Email, discussion boards, Microsoft Teams, and Blackboard Collaborate are just some of the tools you’ll use to interact with your tutors and fellow students. It’s important to remember that the same expectations for how you conduct yourself as a member of the University community apply to both physical and digital spaces, even outside the virtual classroom.
As a starting point for online engagement, consider the following:
- Treat all participants with dignity and respect. Support your fellow students as you want to be supported, even if your opinions differ.
- Be polite, professional and inclusive. Address people as they wish to be addressed.
- Use clear and concise language. Be respectful of each other’s time and attention.
- Check your spelling and grammar but don’t chastise anyone for their mistakes. Remember that your fellow students might be anywhere in the world and English may not be everyone’s first language.
- Use standard fonts optimised for online reading (sans serif, 12-14 pt. font).
- Avoid typing in capitals as this may be interpreted as shouting.
- Be careful with humour and sarcasm – not everything is clear when conveyed through text so it’s important to minimise chances for misinterpretation.
- Be mindful of sharing personal information online – both yours and others’.
The following resources offer more information on netiquette for your online studies:
- The Digital Student: Netiquette (University of Hull)
- Online Communication (Oxford Brookes University)
- Checklist: Being an effective online learner (Enhancement Themes)
The University has a zero-tolerance stance towards any form of harassment or bullying, including online misconduct. Examples of online harassment include but are not limited to:
- Offensive language, racism and hate speech
- Sexual harassment, including sexualised bullying and unwanted sexualisation
- Intimate image abuse or revenge porn
- Doxing – the publishing of someone's personal details online, often as a result of online shaming campaigns
- Engaging in a cybermob or dogpiling – ganging up on someone in mass criticism
- Message bombing – the intentional flooding of a user's online accounts with messages meant to limit or block their access to an operating system or platform
- Failure to safeguard personal or confidential information
- Trolling – purposely saying something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users
- Orbiting – staying in someone's social media by liking and engaging with their posts, without ever actually reaching out for a genuine chat
- Cyberstalking – using social media to harass, intimidate or frighten someone
- Hacking – seeking to compromise digital devices or networks
- Online impersonation
The Online Harassment Field Manual offers a comprehensive glossary of terms relating to online harassment and misconduct.
If you’re at all in doubt about what kinds of behaviour are strictly prohibited for members of the University community, Section 12 of the Student Code of Conduct (pp.4-5, linked below) provides a list of examples pertaining to both physical and virtual spaces. Please bear in mind that, as per the Code of Conduct, which applies to all students, the University may choose to investigate and take action on any reports of misconduct occurring online and in social media.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Online
The University is fully committed to fostering safe and inclusive spaces both across campus and online. Unfortunately, the internet was not created with equality, diversity and inclusion in mind, meaning we all have to make a conscious effort to promote these values and protect the most vulnerable members of our diverse and international community.
Respect at Edinburgh Hub
This hub brings together information and guidance on the Dignity & Respect policy, the processes for raising and addressing concerns, and the support and training available. You can find up-to-date information on the University’s #NoExcuse campaign and the Students’ Association’s Liberation campaigns in the Respect at Edinburgh hub as well.
The Consent Collective
The Consent Collective is also working with the University to address issues surrounding consent, sex, gender, sexual harassment and relationships. You can access their content by signing in to Consent Collective TV using your university email address.
Policies and Regulations
When thinking about digital safety and citizenship and your own role within the University community, the following policies and regulations should be considered.
University Code of Student Conduct
This document sets out expectations for student behaviour and the procedures the University uses to resolve disciplinary infractions.
University Computing Regulations
These regulations govern the use of all University computing and network facilities by staff, students and all authorised users. If you have any questions about what you're allowed to do while using a University network or device, be sure to consult these regulations.
University Information Security Policy
University policy states that the information it is responsible for will be appropriately secured. The Information Security Policy provides a framework for how this will be done.
University Virtual Classroom Policy
This policy clarifies rights and responsibilities when delivering and recording teaching and learning using online communication and collaboration technologies. The policy covers a number of very important areas such as intellectual property, data protection and appropriate use of recordings. It complements the lecture recording policy and is based on the same principles.
University Dignity & Respect Policy
This document sets out expectations for ensuring that all members of the University treat one another with dignity and respect.
University Equality & Diversity Strategy
This document outlines the University’s strategy to ensure equality and diversity across all Schools and departments.
University Trans Equality Policy
This document outlines the University’s approach to providing support and understanding to those individuals who wish to take, or have taken, steps to present themselves in a gender different to their birth gender.
University Privacy Statement
This document outlines how the University processes your personal information and who this information is shared with.
Institute for Academic Development (IAD) e-Professionalism Guide
E-Professionalism refers to the way you engage yourself online in relation to your profession, including your attitudes, actions and your adherence to relevant professional codes of conduct. Find the IAD’s guidance on e-Professionalism below.
© Victoria Madden, University of Edinburgh, 2021, CC BY-SA 4.0, unless otherwise indicated.