A key distinguishing feature of an online course is that communication can often occur via the written word. Because of this the body language, voice, tone, and instantaneous listener feedback of the traditional classroom might be absent. Even when classes are live and include video features, it is still important to consider the following information when contributing messages to a discussion and when reading them:
- Respect others and their opinions. In online learning, students from various backgrounds come together to learn. It is important to respect their feelings and opinions though they may differ from your own.
- Consider others’ privacy. Ask for permission if you want to forward someone’s email messages to third parties. Keep in mind that all private email is considered copyrighted by the original author.
- Pick the right tone. Since we depend on the written word in online learning, it is especially important to choose the right words to get your meaning across. For example, sarcasm is harder to detect when you read the words rather than hearing them.
- Be forgiving. If someone states something that you find offensive, mention this directly to the instructor. Remember that the person contributing to the discussion might be new to this form of communication. What you find offensive may quite possibly have been unintended and can best be cleared up by the instructor.
- Think before you hit the send button. Think carefully about the content of your message before contributing it. Once sent to the group there is no taking it back. Grammar and spelling errors reflect on you and your audience might not be able to decode misspelled words or poorly constructed sentences.
- Brevity is best. Be as concise as possible when contributing to a discussion. Your points might me missed if hidden in a flood of text.
- Stick to the point. Contributions to a discussion should stick to the subject. Don’t waste others’ time by going off on irrelevant tangents.
- Do not type in all caps. Typing in caps is considered shouting or screaming online. Various studies on the topic reflect that it is more difficult and takes longer to read text that is typed in all caps.
Adapted from: http://www.asumh.edu