Understanding the New World of eLearning Etiquette

Barry Lenson

Understanding the New World of eLearning Etiquette

Understanding the New World of eLearning Etiquette  How should you behave then you are taking an online course? “Don't Be `That Guy’ In Your Online Classes: Online Student Etiquette,” a recent blog post by Jennifer Williamson on the DistanceEducation.org blog, spells out some good rules.  Williamson is directing her advice at students who are taking online courses in settings where a virtual class convenes and takes a course in a group. That means that there are shared group assignments, class message boards, and other common experiences.

Although not all online courses adhere to that kind of format – in many, for example, students take online courses without being part of a class that adheres to a shared schedule of units or lessons – Williamson’s post offers some sound advice for being a good citizen of any online classes.

Here are some tips we like . . . 

  • Don’t “shout” when communicating about your classes.  By shout, Williamson means writing entirely in capital letters. Because a course instructor, online tutor or technical support representative doesn’t have the benefit of hearing your voice when you’re sending online messages, writing entirely in caps can convey an impression that you are angry, frustrated – or worse. 
  • Reread any communications before you send them. This is a good point. If you’re doing online coursework at any time of the night or day, you could be tempted to fire off an email that sounds angry, even if you aren’t. So Williamson advises rereading any communications at a later time before hitting the “send” button. 
  • Avoid jokes and sarcasm.  It can be tempting to personalize yourself by including a joke in an email to your course advisor, for example. The problem is that without being able to hear your voice or see your “body language,” the recipient can misinterpret your joke as sarcasm or anger.   

So according to Williamson, the best approach is to maintain a simple, businesslike tone when communicating about your online coursework.  

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