1. Read first.
Take some time to read through each of the previous discussion post responses before writing your own response. 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.
2. 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. 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. 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. And don’t forget to 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.
3. Be kind, professional, and respectful.
Treat e-correspondence with faculty and staff as you would in person, not as you would an ongoing chat among friends or on Facebook. 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. Make a point to be kind and respectful in your comments—even if you disagree with someone. And no “yelling,” please! There’s a time and a place for everything—BUT IN MOST SITUATIONS TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS INAPPROPRIATE.
Online classrooms may seem very casual in nature as if they were chats with friends, 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.
4. Clothing is NOT optional.
Think of it as if you’re going into your physical classroom – it would be distracting if you showed up to class without your shirt on. Remember, you will be interacting with other students, and to maximize your own and your classmates’ experience, it’s necessary to abide by similar etiquette as you would if you were in a public place. However, no one will complain if you’re in your pajama bottoms and slippers!
5. Attempt to find your own answer.
If you’re confused or stuck on an assignment, your first instinct may be to immediately ask 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.