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Tips for Communicating Online

Just because we can’t see our students, and they can’t see us - or each other, doesn’t mean we should treat online communication as if it were anonymous. The following suggestions are intended to enhance online communication and prevent the "illusion of anonymity."

  1. Inform students of the proper "netiquette" for online communication. Netiquette refers to the appropriate way to communicate electronically with others. In other words, clearly state in writing what is appropriate and inappropriate when communicating online. For ideas on netiquette, see the CTE’s Teaching Tip, "Netiquette Policies."
  2. Provide guidelines regarding the content, appropriate length, and frequency of online communications, as well as your requirements in terms of grammar, spelling, and the use of emoticons (i.e., the use of facial expressions such as a smiley face drawn with text characters). Model these standards in your own online communications.
  3. Clearly state in the syllabus your availability in terms of responding to communications such as email (i.e., "I will respond to your email between 4 pm and 8 pm Monday through Friday," and/or "I will respond to your email within 24 hours," etc.).
  4. Tell students to include any pertinent information in the subject line to make organizing and responding to communications easier (e.g., the course code and their name if they are not emailing through LCC’s course management system).
  5. Remind students that email is a permanent written communication, and as such, should be carefully reread, edited, and spellchecked before being sent. A general rule of thumb is to not put anything in an email that you wouldn’t be willing to say in person.
  6. Provide examples of postings, responses to posts, etc.
  7. Monitor online discussions to ensure that established standards are met, and that the focus of the postings is content related.
  8. Provide thoughtful feedback to online communications and/or meaningful recaps so that your students not only feel your presence in the course, but also feel they are "on track" in terms of their learning and understanding.
  9. Suggest that students provide a picture of themselves so that you can connect a face to a name and reduce feelings of anonymity. Likewise, if this a desirable practice, provide a picture of yourself.

References:

"Adult Learners." Up to Speed 2001. Web. 22 Apr. 2010.

Baron, Leora. "Email Management." Teaching and Learning Center. U. of Nevada, Las Vegas. Web. 20 Apr. 2010.

Baron, Leora. "Online Communication." Teaching and Learning Center. U. of Nevada, Las Vegas. Web. 20 Apr. 2010.

Baron, Leora. "Overcoming the Illusion of Anonymity." Teaching and Learning Center. U. of Nevada, Las Vegas. Web. 20 Apr. 2010.

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