Classroom Practices


There is no institute wide attendance policy at CalArts; due to the different pedagogical approaches in the Institute each attendance policy is school by school. You should have the attendance policy for your class (as determined by your School) clearly stated on your syllabus.

We understand that every class has different needs and you should create a policy that best serves your class. That said, attendance will have specific challenges in a remote environment. Please consider differences in time zones and the fact that students may have variabilities in terms of living situations and internet speeds. Please have a way that students can engage with your class if they are unable to attend your synchronous section.

Cameras On or Off

Many faculty have asked about students who turn their camera off during the class. Again, courses will have different pedagogical needs and you should set the expectations that best serve your course.

However, the power differential between students and faculty means faculty have to be very careful about what they ask of their students in this regard. Legitimate pedagogical reasons for cameras certainly exist (movement classes for example) but pedagogical needs (not preferences) should be the main criteria for demanding cameras be on. Obviously, some courses are not possible to teach without the student on camera.

However we ask you think through making having the camera on a requirement; it can have disproportionate impact on certain students and may be inequitable:

  • Some students have slow or weak internet and having the camera off makes their experience smoother.
  • Some students are in living situations where they do not have a dedicated workspace and do not wish to share with classmates. While we will share tools around creating backgrounds, that will not address all the concerns
  • Some students will not be comfortable being recorded, even if that recording is to be shared internally
  • Some students find it incredibly difficult to watch their own image. We will share instructions for them on how to turn off their own screen, but be aware that having one’s image reflected back is very difficult for some people.

If having their camera on is a requirement of the course, you need to clearly state this in your syllabus.

Online Protocols 

Remember, any applications, forums and discussion platforms you ask students to use as part of your class become a part of your digital classroom. Any expectations you set for classroom behavior apply to these forums, as do all institute policies. We suggest you take time at the beginning of the semester to make sure your expectations are clear to students in the class. Again, it is useful to have a conversation with the class around these expectations and why they are important. The student’s NETIQUETTE guide is here.