Taking an online course and corresponding via the World Wide Web presents communicators with the task of overcoming the lack of nonverbals in communication. When taking a course online, it is important to remember several points of etiquette that will smooth communication between the students and their instructors.
1. Avoid language that may come across as strong or offensive. Language can be easily misinterpreted in written communication. If a point must be stressed, review the statement to make sure that an outsider reading it would not be offended, then post the statement. Humor and sarcasm may easily be misinterpreted as well, so try to be as matter-of-fact and professional as possible.
2. Keep writing to a point and stay on topic. Online courses require a lot of reading. When writing, keep sentences poignant and brief so that readers do not get lost in wordy paragraphs and miss the point of the statement. Also, do not introduce new topics; it may just confuse the readers.
3. Read first, write later. It is important to read all posts or comments of students and instructors within the course discussion before personally commenting to prevent repeating commentary or asking questions that have already been answered.
4. Review, review, then send. There’s no taking back a comment that has already been sent, so it is important to double-check all writing to make sure that it clearly conveys the exact intended message.
5. An online classroom is still a classroom. Though the courses may be online, appropriate classroom behavior is still mandatory. Respect for fellow classmates and the instructors is as important as ever.
6. The language of the Internet. Though still a fairly young type of communication, certain aspects of this form of communication are becoming conventional. For example, do not write using all capital letters, because it will appear as shouting. Also, the use of emoticons can be helpful when used to convey nonverbal feelings (example: :-) or :-( ), but avoid overusing them.
7. Consider the privacy of others'. Ask permission prior to giving out a classmate's email address or other information.
8. If possible, keep attachments small. If it is necessary to send pictures, change the size to an acceptable 100k.
9. No inappropriate material. Do not forward virus warnings, chain letters, jokes, etc. to classmates or instructors. The sharing of pornographic material is forbidden.