online course netiquette

Netiquette is an often neglected area of online courses. It’s a shame–especially when students in online courses behave inappropriately on purpose, or by accident. If a student is wrong, teach them how to do it right. If a student is a jerk, help them stop being a jerk. When you’re taking an online course, you want to make sure you are following some basic course etiquette. Following the right etiquette can ensure everyone has a smooth experience. We’ll discuss why course etiquette is so important and then give examples of what types of behaviors that would be considered rude or disrespectful.

Most people are familiar with the term etiquette and what it carries. From a young age, we are taught to behave properly and have good manners. Now, with many parts of our lives moving online, including even education, a need has arisen for a set of specific online etiquette guidelines that apply to cyber behavior.

The internet is loaded with freely available educational resources. However, if you plan to take your newly-found knowledge and start giving advice to people over the web, it’s important to use proper netiquette. Below are tips on how you can effectively disseminate your wisdom online.

Netiquette guidelines are a set of rules that dictate what tasteful and respectful online behavior is.  How to speak respectfully without taking part in disrespect or bullying is among the main reasons why we need these rules.

These rules tend to change over time due to the changing nature of the online space. For online students, all of the communication takes place online which is why these rules are especially important to them. Here are a few ground netiquette rules for online classes that students should be aware of.

Why Is Online Etiquette Important?

More and more classes are being held online nowadays, so it is important for participants to have an understanding of the rules of online etiquette. These rules help to keep discussions focused, on track, and respectful. Without online etiquette rules, conversations and debates can quickly disintegrate into misunderstanding, and rude language and behavior, which destroys the chance of smooth communication and maintaining healthy relationships.

1. Be Careful With Your Tone

While an online conversation with friends doesn’t necessarily require much thought, the same doesn’t go for when you are having a conversation with professors. You should be careful with capitalization, as writing in ALL-CAPS can oftentimes be interpreted as YELLING! and will be viewed as impolite. Similarly, a joke can oftentimes be perceived as a rude remark. This is why you have to make sure that your point doesn’t get lost in translation.

Apart from texting, it is also advisable to be aware of your tone in online classes that use audio or video forms. However, this is where the rules of general etiquette apply more. For instance, not talking over someone, listening carefully, actively participating in class, etc.

2. Be Accurate and  Factual

false-information

The internet is a vast place with information coming from all sorts of sources. This is why you should be careful when providing information. It’s important to fact-check everything you read and possibly include sources when giving advice or information.

When getting your degree online, you should be careful to include credible sources in all your papers and when you help your classmates by providing information on a subject. Likewise, you should be cautious about what you choose to believe on the internet and what you share with others. For instance, if you’re unsure how to go about it, stick to official sites that are known for credibility.

3. Search First, Then Ask

If you get stuck with a question on a certain assignment, it’s better to search for it before you ask your classmates or the professor. It’s possible that you might find your answer fast, and there will be no need to include third parties.

The same goes for questions regarding class structure. You may find your answers in the syllabus or the university website. Of course, if you fail to find your answer after some time spent searching, you should turn to your professors or peers for help.

4. Don’t Use Sarcasm Freely

While in person, we communicate with the help of facial expressions and gestures. Conveying the same message online can prove more challenging. This is especially true when it comes to sarcastic humor, as it usually isn’t possible to transmit the tone of voice when using text.

A light-hearted joke can be viewed differently in the text. You will need to be careful about making the intent behind your words as clear as possible, which is why sarcasm is off-limits most times.

But many people love jokes (including many of our professors), so just make sure that it is clear that you are being funny, and not rude. Emoticons and smilys can be helpful when conveying sarcasm or humor.

5. Be as Polite as You Are In Person

Being polite on the internet should be as common as in real life. Unfortunately, that is not the case in many situations. A significant number of people tend to use the internet as a cover and their display as a shield, which leads to them writing what they would never say in public.

A key part of netiquette is only typing what you would be comfortable with saying to someone’s face. Hence being respectful and polite to others should be part of your communications online.

And remember,  If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online either.

6. Use Proper  Grammar and Punctuation

Many people tend to forget the rules that apply to writing when communicating online. However, resorting to proper grammar and punctuation can make the message seem more professional and thought out. Not only does it make your text more readable, but it can also prepare you for professional writing that you might do in the future.

Think about what you would like to read yourself. It should be easy to read and comprehensible. That way, you will save precious time for someone reading your email,  message, comment, or post.

So, remember to keep your written communication formal and professional, and save shortcuts and textspeak for ur friends.

7. Stay on Topic

When there is a discussion happening, it’s crucial that everyone stays on topic. It’s easy to stray off the initial conversation, especially when there are many people participating in it. Filling the conversation with unnecessary information can lose precious time, and make it hard for someone to understand what the discussion is really about.

So, make sure that you understand what the discussion is about and only reply with things relevant to it. This can prove helpful to both you and the others.

8. Remember That Nothing Is Private Online

Online privacy is something you should keep in mind when typing anything. Most things you post and share are probably going to be there for a long time. This means that you should stay away from anything considered inappropriate and rude.

And never forward personal emails or photos without the permission of those involved in the communication. Be careful when sharing information, and never share anything about a student or a professor without their consent.

Remember that we live in a day and age where many things take place online, and building an online presence is just as important as the real-life one. That being said, there is no ‘real privacy’ on the internet, and you should handle what you share wisely.

9. Make Clear and Brief Points

Unlike face-to-face interactions, taking too long to get to a point can result in the message getting lost in the text. Hence it is best to use short and clear sentences when trying to explain something. It gets the point across more effectively and leaves less room for misunderstandings.

Don’t let your point get lost in translation by typing too many unnecessary words. However, make sure that all the information you want to present is still there.

10. Respect People’s Privacy

Treat others’ privacy the same way you would want some to handle your private information. You shouldn’t give the personal information of your classmates and professors online to anyone.

This means being careful with passwords, whereabouts, private conversations, and pictures. The same goes for both your and others’ information, as it can be dangerous to distribute any of it without caution.

11. Use Your Professors’ Proper Titles

Although using the proper title for your professor should be understood, many people tend to forget it once classes are online. As a result, a certain amount of formality is a vital part of netiquette guidelines for students. Unless, the professor states otherwise, you should always refer to them professionally.

Apart from using their proper title, you should always be careful to be respectful towards them in all forms of online communication. You should act the same as you would in a traditional classroom.

12. Respect Others’ Opinions

You should be aware that you’re not always going to agree with the opinions of your classmates or professors. However, keep in mind that you should always be respectful in discussions. You can disagree with someone and respect their opinions at the same time.

Although online learning carries a level of anonymity and distance which traditional classes don’t, that shouldn’t serve as a reason to not be kind to someone. Remember that an online classroom is still a classroom.

So, respect others’ views and refrain from belittling opinions that are different from yours. You can disagree or discuss with someone, of course, but be sensitive and do that respectfully.

13. Don’t Overuse the Chat Box

Many online classes come with chat boxes to help students communicate. They serve as a way of letting students communicate with each other and ask questions related to what they are learning. However, if not used carefully they can turn into a distraction box.

You should know to only use the chatbox when your text is going to be relevant to the topic you’re discussing in class. It’s not advisable to use it as a tool for chatting with fellow students about irrelevant matters.

So instead, use the chat box to ask relevant questions, participate in discussions, or answer when the professor asks.

14. Submit Assignments Carefully

Being mindful of how to submit online assignments to professors should be something every student knows how to do. Since there is no face-to-face interaction, if you fail to put your name on it or mess up the subject line, your assignment can easily be lost in a pile of emails.

Another thing to be careful with when submitting assignments online is attachments. You shouldn’t attach files for which you are not sure if the other person will be able to open. Additionally, you should follow specific instructions your professor gives about assignments.

The online community has its own set of rules that are referred to as netiquette. There are many things that online students should keep in mind, such as tone of voice, accuracy, proper grammar, privacy, etc. Being familiar with the unwritten rules of the internet and guidelines for interacting online can prove helpful with any online communication you have. For the most part, you should remember to be respectful and fact-check your information.

The rules for online learning and classroom learning are virtually the same: You have to study, take notes, attend classes and participate in discussions. In the classroom, your words, gestures, posture and facial expressions communicate your thoughts and observations to your classmates and teachers. But how do you express yourself online, where the written word is all they see?

During your online degree program, you will frequently be asked to participate in online discussions and will occasionally do peer reviews of your classmates’ work. Here are 10 rules of netiquette that will help you successfully communicate as you learn online.

  1. Make sure identification is clear in all communications. Begin with a salutation (“Hi, Jason!”) and end with your signature (“Hannah Kay, Criminology 101”).
  2. Review what you wrote and try to interpret it objectively. When we speak face to face and are misunderstood, we have an on-the-spot opportunity to rephrase our words. In writing, we must strive twice as hard to be understood, as we do not have the benefit of modifying or elaborating in real time. All caps (“I’M SHOUTING”) and exclamation points (“Give me a break!!!”) can be misinterpreted as intense anger or humor without the appropriate context.
  3. If you wouldn’t say it face to face, don’t say it online. When you’re working online, you’re safe behind a screen, but that’s no excuse to be ill-mannered or say things you would never say in public.
  4. Don’t assume everyone understands where you’re coming from. Sarcasm and wit is often the spice of in-person conversation, but in online discussion, it can not only lose its edge, it can bite! In your high school classroom, all students were the same age, came from similar backgrounds and lived in the same area. In contrast, your online classroom is made up of people of all ages and cultures who have varied backgrounds, lifestyles and geographic locations. With this in mind, review what you wrote before contributing to the conversation and ask yourself, “Will everyone get the joke?”
  5. Don’t spam. Please don’t take advantage of your connection with the other students in your online classroom to forward emails and links regarding your political/spiritual beliefs or to sell your services.
  6. Use emoticons. In casual chatroom settings, emoticons can help convey feelings that may otherwise get lost in translation, including humor, exasperation, exhaustion and even confusion.
  7. Respect others’ privacy. Don’t give out another student’s personal email address without permission.
  8. Remember, if it’s on the internet, it’s everywhere. Don’t share personal information about yourself in a public online forum, especially something that could put your safety or security at risk.
  9. Follow the rules. Just as your online college posts guidelines related to academic integrity and student expectations, online forums also have rules of conduct. Make a point to read them every time, as they can vary from class to class.
  10. Forgive and forget. If you’re offended by something another student says online, keep in mind that you may have misunderstood their intentions. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Proper etiquette is nothing new for most people. You grew up with your parents constantly telling you to mind your manners. But in a digital age where the unwritten online “rules” are constantly changing, proper “netiquette” may seem a bit mystifying. Add in the atmosphere of an online classroom, and suddenly the proper netiquette guidelines don’t seem as easy as a simple “please” and “thank you.”

As you might have guessed, netiquette is essentially rules and norms for interacting with others on the internet in a considerate, respectful way. We enlisted several experts to set some guidelines to make sure your online manners are up to par.

10 Netiquette guidelines every online student needs to know

Learn how to be on your best behavior in an online classroom with 10 netiquette guidelines every online student needs to know.

1. NO YELLING, PLEASE

There’s a time and a place for everything—BUT IN MOST SITUATIONS TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS INAPPROPRIATE. Most readers tend to perceive it as shouting and will have a hard time taking what you say seriously, no matter how intelligent your response may be. If you have vision issues, there are ways to adjust how text displays so you can still see without coming across as angry or upset.

This is true for both posting to online course walls or discussions—like those found in online programs at Rasmussen University—and with personal email communications with your professors and advisors. Using appropriate capitalization and focusing on your tone when writing will give your virtual communication a boost.

2. Sarcasm can (and will) backfire

Sarcasm has been the source of plenty of misguided arguments online, as it can be incredibly difficult to understand the commenter’s intent. What may seem like an obvious joke to you could come across as off-putting or rude to those who don’t know you personally. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid sarcasm altogether in an online classroom. Instead, lean toward being polite and direct in the way you communicate to avoid these issues.

3. Don’t abuse the chat box

Chat boxes are incorporated into many online classes as a place for students to share ideas and ask questions related to the lesson. It can be a helpful resource or a major distraction—it all depends on how well students know their classroom netiquette.

“Rather than asking relevant questions or giving clear answers, students might use the chat box to ask questions irrelevant to the discussion, or to talk about an unrelated topic,” says Erin Lynch, senior educator at Test Innovators. The class chat box isn’t an instant messenger like you’d use with friends. Treat it like the learning tool it’s meant to be, and try not to distract your classmates with off-topic discussions. Use it instead to ask relevant questions and participate in class when the professor asks.

4. Attempt to find your own answer

If you’re confused or stuck on an assignment, your first instinct may be to immediately ask your instructor a question. But before you ask, take the time to try to figure it out on your own.

For questions related to class structure, such as due dates or policies, refer to your syllabus and course FAQ. Attempt to find the answers to any other questions on your own using a search engine. If your questions remain unanswered after a bit of effort, feel free to bring them up with your instructor.

At Rasmussen University, you’ll also have lots of support outside of the classroom too including 24/7 technology support, student advisors, and library services to help you find answers about your classwork, technology access, or curriculum plan.

5. Stop … grammar time!

Always make an effort to use proper punctuation, spelling and grammar. Trying to decipher a string of misspelled words with erratic punctuation frustrates the reader and distracts from the point of your message. While this is something you should pay attention for all your virtual communication, it’s especially important for the papers and assignments you’ll turn in. If grammar and spelling are generally a weakness for you, don’t get discouraged. At Rasmussen University, you’ll have access to the library’s writing lab where you can submit a paper to receive feedback on both your grammar and your writing overall.

On the flip side of this, it’s important to be reasonable about others’ grammar mistakes. Nobody likes the grammar police, so scolding a classmate because they used “your” instead of “you’re” isn’t practicing proper netiquette.

6. Set a respectful tone

“An increasingly common netiquette faux pas is treating e-correspondence with faculty and staff as an ongoing chat among friends,” says Alexey Timbul, online professor at the Academy of Art University.

Every day may feel like casual Friday in an online classroom where you don’t see anyone in person, but a certain level of formality is still expected in your communication with instructors. In addition to proper punctuation and spelling, it’s good netiquette to use respectful greetings and signatures, full sentences and even the same old “please” and “thank you” you use in real life.

7. Submit files the right way

You won’t be printing assignments and handing to them to your teacher in person, so knowing how to properly submit your work online is key to your success as an online student. Online course instructors often establish ground rules for file assignment submissions, like naming conventions that help them keep things organized or acceptable file formats. Ignoring these instructions is a common example of bad netiquette.

“Receiving work that does not adhere to the file format and naming protocol means a student is not paying attention,” says Timbul. If you don’t follow instructions, you’re taking the risk that your instructor won’t be able to find or open your assignment. Save yourself and your instructor a headache and read their instructions carefully before submitting.

8. Read first

Take some time to read through each of the previous discussion post responses before writing your own response. If the original post asked a specific question, there’s a good chance someone has already answered it. Submitting an answer that is eerily similar to a classmate’s indicates to the instructor that you haven’t paid attention to the conversation thus far.

Remember, discussions can move fairly quickly so it’s important to absorb all of the information before crafting your reply. Building upon a classmate’s thought or attempting to add something new to the conversation will show your instructor you’ve been paying attention.

9. Think before you type

A passing comment spoken in class can be forgotten a few minutes later, but what you share in an online classroom is part of a permanent digital record. “Whether or not privacy settings are in place, the internet has a tendency to house things forever, and what you say privately can easily become public,” advises etiquette expert Devoreaux Walton.

Not only is it good practice to be guarded when it comes to personal information, you always want to be just as respectful toward others as you would be if you were sitting in the same room together. Zink says a good rule of thumb to follow is if you’re comfortable standing up in front of a classroom and saying your message, then it’s most likely okay to share.

10. Be kind and professional

Online communication comes with a level of anonymity that doesn’t exist when you’re talking to someone face-to-face. Sometimes this leads people to behave rudely when they disagree with one another. Online students probably don’t have the complete anonymity that comes with using a screen name, but you could still fall prey to treating someone poorly because of the distance between screens. Make a point to be kind and respectful in your comments—even if you disagree with someone.

“At the core, all of these mistakes come down to forgetting that an online classroom is still a classroom,” Lynch says. “Good netiquette means conducting yourself in an online class with the same respect, politeness and professionalism that you would exhibit in a real-life classroom.”

Plus, practicing professional communication skills while you’re in school will serve you will in the workplace as well—whether you end up working remotely or not. Rasmussen University places a special emphasis on practicing transferable skills that you can take from the classroom to the workplace.

Netiquette / Etiquette … it’s all in your words! Netiquette refers to “Etiquette”, or proper way to conduct yourself, on the Internet. 

Email Netiquette

  • Always include a subject line
  • Include your course number and section in your email. Your instructor may teach multiple courses and will have many students, so the more specific you are, the better and easier it will be for your instructor.
  • Remember, without facial expressions, some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails.
  • Use standard fonts for easy readability. Avoid special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, HTML, etc. unless necessary to complete an assignment or communication.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members and always be courteous.
  • Include your name at the bottom of Email messages.   
  • Never assume your email messages are private nor that they can be read by only yourself or the recipient.  Never send something that you would mind seeing on the evening news. Be professional and careful what you say about others.  Email is easily forwarded.

Discussion/Group Chat Netiquette

  • You may have to make an original post before you can view others’ posts and responses
  • Always make a well thought out post or response (not “I agree!” or “Ditto”)
  • Maintain threads by using the “Reply” button rather than starting a new topic unless required by your instructor.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group.
  • Be respectful of others ideas and comments.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.

Other Netiquette Tips

  • Are there appropriate and ‘not-so-appropriate’ ways to communicate on the Web?  Yes.
  • Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to a person’s face or that you wouldn’t mind having ANYONE read.  Just as when you write a letter, when you send written words through cyberspace –via email or on discussion groups  — you have no control over where they go or who will see them.
  • Remember you are talking to a person … not a computer.  It’s easy to forget that there is a person on the other end of the email or discussion group when you’re sitting alone typing at your computer.  Be clear with your words.  It’s easy for someone to misinterpret your meaning.  They can’t see your expressions or hear the tone of your voice.
  • Don’t expect instant responses.
  • Capitalize words only to highlight an important point or to distinguish a title or heading. Capitalizing whole words that are not titles is generally termed as SHOUTING!
  • Never give your username or password to another person.
  • Focus on one subject per message and always include a pertinent subject title for the message, that way the user can locate the message quickly.
  • *Asterisks* surrounding a word can be used to make a stronger point.
  • Cite all quotes, references and sources and respect copyright and license agreements.
  • Be careful when using sarcasm and humor.  Without face to face communications your joke may be viewed as criticism.

It is important for you as a student to recognize that the online classroom is in fact a classroom, and certain behaviors are expected when you communicate with both your peers and your instructors. These guidelines for online behavior and interaction are known as “netiquette”.

The purpose of the following information is to help you be a more effective and successful student when communicating via email, chat rooms, or on discussion boards as a part of your online learning activities in the Fogelman College.

Why Netiquette is important to you as an online student

Proper conduct in an online class is just as important as in a face-to-face classroom with similar potential repercussions for failing to maintain decorum.  Remember that in an online class it is common for a very substantial portion of your grade to be a function of how well you perform in online discussion areas and other “classroom participation” activities.  Your ability to clearly and properly communicate in an online class can be every bit as important to your success as how you perform on multiple choice tests and written assignments.

You can start by either:

“Soft” Misconduct vs. Misconduct with Concrete Repercussions

Some forms of online misconduct are merely bothersome to others with the impact being limited to your instructor or fellow students finding you annoying and their being less likely to take your thoughts seriously.  Other forms of online misconduct can potentially cross a line into the area of academic dishonesty and be treated no differently than cheating on an exam or plagiarizing a paper.  It is therefore important that you take these guidelines seriously as they can have very real impact on your success as an online student.  You want to avoid being guilty of misbehavior in both forms regardless of the level of impact.

Below are specific instructions on how to be the most positive and effective digital communicator that you can be in all areas of communication, but most especially in your online classes.

GENERAL GUIDELINES

When communicating online, you should always:

  • Treat your instructor(s) with respect, even in email or in any other online communication.
  • Always use your professors’ proper title: Dr. or Prof., or if you’re in doubt use Mr. or Ms.   (Corollary:  Make sure if you use a gender-specific title that you are clear on their gender.  Some names can be gender ambiguous.  When in doubt, go find a picture of them online.)
  • Unless specifically invited, don’t refer to them by first name.  Some will be OK called “Bob” and others will expect to be “Dr. Smith”.  
  • Use clear and concise language.  Be respective of readers’ time and attention.
  • Remember that all college level communication should have correct spelling and grammar.
  • Avoid slang terms such as “wassup?” and texting abbreviations such as “u” instead of “you”.
  • Use standard fonts that are optimized for online reading (e.g., sans serif) along with a consistent and readable size (12 or 14 pt.)
  • Avoid using the caps lock feature AS IT CAN BE INTERPRETED AS YELLING.
  • Limit and possibly avoid the use of emoticons.  Not everyone knows how to interpret them.
  • Be cautious when using humor or sarcasm as tone is sometimes lost in an email or discussion post and your message might be taken literally or offensively.
  • Be careful sharing personal information online (both yours and other’s).
  • If you are in a health-care course follow HIPPA guidelines including not sending confidential patient information via e-mail or posting online.

DISCUSSION BOARD “NETIQUETTE” AND GUIDELINES

When posting on the Discussion Board in your online class, you should:

  • Make posts that are on topic and within the scope of the course material.  If necessary, re-read the instructions from your instructor.
  • Take your posts seriously and review and edit your posts before sending. (Would you put sloppy writing with poor grammar in a formal research paper?)
  • Be as brief as possible while still making a thorough comment.  Remember this is a discussion area, not a doctoral thesis.
  • Always give proper credit when referencing or quoting another source. (Corollary:  Don’t copy and paste another student’s post and claim it as original as that is essentially plagiarism.)
  • Be sure to read all messages in a thread before replying.
  • Don’t repeat someone else’s post without adding something of your own to it. (See corollary above regarding reuse of someone else’s post.)
  • Avoid short, generic replies such as, “I agree.” You should include why you agree or add to the previous point.  The point of a discussion in an online course is to help you and your other students learn through in-depth consideration of important topics.
  • Always be respectful of others’ opinions even when they differ from your own. When you disagree with someone, you should express your differing opinion in a respectful, non-critical way. (Corollary:  Do not make personal or insulting remarks.)
  • Be open-minded as that is one of the major points of participating in an open classroom discussion.

EMAIL NETIQUETTE

When you send an email to your instructor, teaching assistant, or classmates, you should:

  • Use a clear and descriptive subject line as a way to give them a reason to open your email.
  • Be brief.  Don’t make the reader have to scroll to read the entire message.
  • Put the most important part at the very beginning. They may not read it to the end.
  • Avoid attachments unless you are sure your recipients can open them.  This is especially important with many people using smart -phones and tablet PCs to view email.
  • Sign your message with your name and return e-mail address.  Make sure they know how to contact you back.
  • Think before you send the e-mail to more than one person. Does everyone really need to see your message?  (Corollary:  Be sure you REALLY want everyone to receive your response when you click, “reply all”.)
  • Similarly, be sure that the message author intended for the information to be passed along before you click the “forward” button.
  • If you are sending an email while upset or angry, think about not sending it until you’ve cooled off.  A 24-hour resting period is often a good idea.

SECURITY

Remember that your password is the only thing protecting you from pranks or more serious harm.

  • Always follow University of Memphis campus guidelines with respect to password security. Keep it private and never share it with anyone.  If you have questions, call the campus service desk at 901-678-8888.
  • Change your password immediately if you think someone else might know it.  (Call 901-678-8888 if you need help managing your password.)
  • Always logout when you are finished using any secured system – especially if you are using a shared computer in a public place.

Overall, you should use common sense when communicating electronically.  In the same way that you would present yourself in person to make a positive and constructive impression you should always do the same when taking an online course.  Remember that the majority of what we communicate to others is in non-verbal ways (body language, voice inflection, etc.) and all you have in online courses is in a text form. Make sure your digital impression is a clear and positive one.

To ensure your peers and instructor receive your written communications as you intended, keep the following netiquette rules in mind:

  1. Your Peers are Human:
    When communicating online, remember there are real humans reading your words who deserve respect.  Without the benefit of facial cues and other physical indications, your readers may not interpret your words as you intended.  Before sending any communication, ask yourself if you would say the same thing if you were face-to-face.
  2. Apply the Same Ethical Standards as You Would for In-Person Communication:
    Expectations for standards of behavior are no different in an online course. This includes following the copyright laws and University codes of conduct.
  3. Consider Where You Are in Cyberspace:
    Communication which is acceptable in one platform (texting), may not be appropriate in your online course. Pay attention to how other learners in your course are communicating and follow their cues.
  4. Respect People’s Time and Bandwidth:
    Your communication should be relevant and concise. Your peers and instructor will need to be able to read your work within a reasonable amount of time. Avoid attaching large files or images which might take time to download.  In addition, you should not expect immediate responses to your work.  Follow the guidelines outlined in your syllabus for response time and feedback.
  5. Pay Attention to the Quality of Your Writing:
    People may not be judging you on your appearance, but they will be judging you on the quality of your written words. Make sure your work is relevant to the topic and proof-read before submitting.
  6. Share Your Knowledge:
    One of the great aspects of learning online is the varied experience of your peers and the ability to learn from one another.  Share your expertise, including resources and reference materials.
  7. Do Not Participate in Bullying or Inciting Arguments:
    Express your passion for a topic without anger.  It’s okay to disagree with someone, but keep it respectful and avoid personal insults. Treat others as you wish to be treated.
  8. Respect the Privacy of Your Peers and Instructor:
    Some forums ask students to share personal information, relevant to the topic at hand. Do not share your peer’s personal information – respect their privacy. This privacy extends to all of your classmates’ presence in the online class environment. Sharing screenshots, video, or audio of your classmates without their permission is a violation of student privacy rights. Similarly, you should not share any of your classmate’s classwork, group work, presentations or other educational materials without permission.
  9. Don’t Abuse Your Power:
    Having more expertise can give one a sense of power in the learning community. Do not take advantage of others who may not have the same experience or knowledge.
  10. Practice Kindness and Forgiveness:
    Some students may ask questions which appear to be off topic or peers might make errors in spelling, etc.  Be kind and do not draw attention to mistakes. If you feel your peer would benefit from your feedback, provide the information in private.

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