Online Discussion Etiquette
It is hard to convey your message sometimes when you are talking to someone in person. It is even harder when communicating online. Online colleges require that students participate in Discussion Posts. This is an excellent learning forum and a great way to bring students together and make them a part of a college community. There are however rules of etiquette that every college student should remember when posting discussion questions or comments.
When you speak to someone in person they see your body language and hear the tone of your voice. When posting a discussion question or response all people have to go on is written words, punctuation and capitalization. Be sure to be polite when communicating.
Be sure to thoroughly read a classmates post before responding. A post can be taken out of context if it is not read through.
Make sure you understand what your classmate said before responding. Arguments arise simply because one person misunderstood what the other was saying. This is where tone of voice and body language come into play. Since you do not have them in online discussions, make sure to understand what you read. If someone’s comment is unclear, ask them exactly what they are saying. Be sure to ask politely though by either paraphrasing or just asking a question.
For example a statement that can cause a fight is when a classmate says: “Teachers do not spend enough time on each lesson for kids to really understand what is being taught.” This is a pretty loaded statement and can cause a fight when the author might not have meant anything negative by the statement. Maybe he forgot to say that teachers are so busy that they can’t spend the time they need on each lesson. By asking what he meant you give him the chance to explain and possibly avoid a fight. Ask respectfully though by saying, “I am not sure what you mean by that statement, could you please explain in more detail.”
Punctuation has a lot of meaning. Be sure to use it appropriately so that your fellow classmates know when you are excited or when you are just making a statement.
One huge mistake people make in online discussions is using all capital letters. In print all capitol is like yelling so be sure not to yell at your fellow classmates.
Most of all when engaging in online discussions remember that your classmates are trying just as hard as you are and all of you think differently and have different ways to express yourself. The discussion forum will be a positive experience for everyone if they are respectful, courteous and kind
Picture by Flickr