10 rules of netiquette for students
by UTEP Connect
Effective communication is key to success in online education, and that’s where the term “netiquette” comes in. Netiquette, which is a portmanteau of “net” and “etiquette,” refers to using courtesy and politeness when communicating with others online.
Netiquette in online education
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.
- Make sure identification is clear in all communications. Begin with a salutation (“Hi, Jason!”) and end with your signature (“Hannah Kay, Criminology 101”).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?”
- 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.
- 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.
- Respect others’ privacy. Don’t give out another student’s personal email address without permission.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.