FSW Standards for Virtual Classrooms

As FSW continues to innovate instructional teaching modalities to meet the needs of students and offer the highest quality post-secondary education we will begin offering new instructional modalities in Fall 2020 that utilize a virtual classroom. In doing so we are able to offer flexibility in terms of scheduling for students and instructors. As with on-campus instruction, all members of the FSW community must uphold FSW’s Policies, Procedures, and Academic Standards to ensure that we can engage in the new modalities without jeopardizing academic integrity. FSW is committed to complying with SACSCOC’s Distance and Correspondence Education Policy. The Standards for Virtual Classrooms outlined here ensure that we are in compliance with this policy and that we preserve the quality of students’ learning experience by:

  1. Using technology in meaningful ways to engage students and facilitate learning
  2. Communicating expectations concerning use of technology to students
  3. Verifying the identity of a student who participates in class or coursework
  4. Ensuring faculty uphold the rigor of FSW programs and quality of instruction
  5. Protecting the privacy of students

The Standards for Virtual Classrooms apply to all courses that use web conferencing tools, like Zoom, for live remote instruction, including FSW Live Online, FSW Live Flex and any other intermittent use of live remote instruction in other modalities. Instructors that use live remote instruction have completed the “Live Online Certification” to ensure FSW’s faculty are qualified to teach the courses and programs offered in this modality. Failure to adhere to the Standards outlined here may result in a violation of College Policy or the Student Code of Conduct.

Classroom Attendance

FSW College Operating Procedure  (COP 03-0609) limits classroom attendance to enrollees, guest speakers invited by the faculty, and authorized faculty and staff in order to support a safe and productive learning environment. In a virtual classroom we recognize that students and instructors are regularly joining the class from their home or other off-campus locations where other individuals may be present. FSW expects that instructors and students employ the following practices to facilitate a virtual classroom that adheres to this policy.

Audio-Video Expectations

FSW expects students and instructors engaging in required live remote instruction to enable and turn on the webcam video and audio to verify who is in attendance. Use of video and audio in FSW Live Online and FSW Live Flex is necessary to verify attendance and for classroom engagement. Headphones are encouraged to maintain the privacy of the classroom conversation. Individuals should remain on mute unless they are actively speaking to limit audio disruptions.

Instructors using live remote instruction, regardless of modality, should clearly communicate their classroom policies and expectations in their syllabus and in Canvas.

Physical Location

FSW expects that students will attend all required class meetings and that every attempt will be made to join from a safe location free from distractions. Instructors reserve the right to remove students from the virtual classroom if their physical surroundings are disruptive, unsafe, or not conducive to learning (e.g. driving, attending an event, in a busy public location or other disruptive environment).

FSW expects that all participants attend the classroom properly attired at all times. Dress as if you were attending class on campus and adhere to any applicable dress codes.

FSW wishes to respect the privacy of instructors and students who prefer not to share their physical surroundings. Acceptable virtual backgrounds are permitted, but may be provided by the instructor or the institution. Virtual backgrounds should not be offensive, or otherwise disrupt the classroom environment.

Privacy and Security Considerations

Recording Virtual Classes

FSW College Operating Procedure (COP 03-614) states that recordings and materials may be used only for individual or group study with other students enrolled in the same class, and may not be reproduced, transferred, distributed or displayed in any public or commercial manner. Students must destroy recordings at the end of the semester in which they are enrolled in the class. Students who require recording or other adaptations of lectures as a reasonable accommodation for a disability should contact the Office of Adaptive Services (OAS) in advance of the lecture in order to obtain written permission to record. In the event permission to record is granted, the professor may notify all students, speakers and other lecture attendees in advance that recording may occur. Every effort should be made to protect the confidentiality of a student with disability who is being granted an accommodation, i.e. the professor will not name the student who is doing the recording when it is due to a disability accommodation.

IMPORTANT: Certain student, faculty and staff information and privacy are protected by federal, state and other laws.

FSW discourages recording virtual classroom meetings because recordings may constitute educational records that are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Live remote instructional sessions may only be recorded in accordance with FSW’s Zoom Privacy & Security Statement.

FSW expects instructors to follow the guidelines outlined by the Office of Information Technology to Protect Participant Privacy when Recording with Zoom. When recording live remote instruction:

  • Instructors should notify the class that the session is being recorded
  • Students may opt to disable video and mute the microphone to protect privacy
  • Sharing of video recordings is restricted to only students enrolled in that class

Virtual Classroom Standards of Conduct

FSW expects that all participants in the virtual classroom engage in behavior that is consistent with Academic Policies and College Operating Procedures outlined in the College Catalog:

  • Academic Integrity Policy
  • Discrimination and Harassment Policy
  • Drug-free Campus
  • Americans with Disabilities
  • Board of Trustee Policies
  • State Statutes

Virtual Classroom Etiquette

The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is crucial to the success of online learning. All participants are expected to uphold scholarly behaviors that foster respect, encouragement and learning.

Instructors are expected to clearly communicate any additional requirements and expectations in their course syllabus and outline the consequences of exhibiting disrespectful, offensive and/or inflammatory behavior.


  • Choose a productive learning environment
  • Dress appropriately
  • Set up and log in 5-10 minutes early to test audio/video
  • Use your webcam and be mindful of what you are sharing
  • Mute yourself when not speaking
  • Use headphones to reduce audio feedback disruptions and also to protect the privacy of classroom conversations if you are not alone
  • Be respectful when chatting and keep it to course-related content


  • Distracting or dangerous locations
  • Inappropriate or offensive virtual backgrounds
  • Disruptive language and behavior
  • Sharing recordings or screenshots of Zoom meetings as this could violate privacy rights