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11 Rules of online learning netiquette [Etiquette on the Internet]

BY: Palesa Peterson|30 May 2019
BLOG| The digital student life

Becoming an online student means entering a whole new world. A world where netiquette – etiquette on the internet – is vital if you want to form connections with other students and make the most of your studies.

Here are our top 11 rules for mastering student netiquette, particularly when chatting in study forums.

1. Mind your manners

Don’t get caught up in the anonymity of the digital world and forget everything your parents taught you. Greet first, ask about people’s health, say please, say thank you. You know, all the basics…

2. Remember there are real people and real feelings involved

A brief scroll through online forums is all it takes to see that this rule is easily forgotten. Don’t be that individual. Be the person that respects the people on the other end of the keyboard and remembers that harsh or critical words are just as offensive in writing as they are in person.

3. Pause before posting

When you are part of a vibrant, engaging student forum, it can be tempting to make this your very first port of call if you need information or can’t find something an assignment requires. But everyone is time tight, so it is best to use the forum as your last resort once you’ve read FAQs, re-examined course notes and read similar threads within the forum.

4. Grammarly yourself!

Often when we’re chatting online our fingers start flying over the keyboards and we forget to check what we are writing. Would you spew out highly grammatically challenged sentences in real-life? Probably not. Then don’t do it digitally. It can be quite irritating to reread a post numerous times to understand a simple message. Take an extra minute or two to proof-read your posts.

5. Don’t YELL

An old one, but a good one. Take your finger off the Caps Lock key. Words in capitals equate to shouting online. So, unless you are actually shouting (not recommended) keep your posts in sentence case.

6. Use humour very cautiously – especially sarcasm

The likelihood of humour being misconstrued is much higher when you can’t see the joker’s facial expressions or interpret their tone of voice. Comedic timing is basically non-existent online. So, it is best to play it straight and say things in the most direct and unambiguous way possible to avoid creating unnecessary confusion or issues.

7. Give other posters the benefit of the doubt

Linked to rule 6, if you read something and it causes you to feel offended, give the author the benefit of the doubt. Of course, it may be blatantly hostile, that is one matter. If there is the possibility that what was said could be taken out of context or could be interpreted in more than one way – make allowance for that. Move on swiftly and focus on what is important; winning at your online studies!

8. Use emoticons carefully

While many of us use emoticons regularly in our communications, in a professional setting it is best to ensure you use emoticons sparingly and with purpose – for instance to express yourself or lighten a mood is fine. Try not to overdo them and make sure you come across as eloquent and professional when the setting requires it.

9. Keep debates constructive

The key word here is debate, not criticism. If at any point you feel that someone’s point of view is uninformed, feel free to share your views – but keep feedback constructive.

10. Respect others’ privacy

Don’t out that person who sent you a Direct Message (DM) just because you now know their real name. They may well wish to remain anonymous on the group forum. People have many reasons for preferring to stay incognito online; all you have to do is respect that.

11. Act with integrity

Here the age-old higher education rules apply. Cite your sources, don’t pass other opinions off as your own, don’t plagiarise. Act ethically and with integrity throughout your online studies.

12. Respect the "webinar" space

Ok, so we know that webinars are a tool on the internet but given that it is part of our daily business, we had to add in some suggestions around how to use the tool. There is no limitation to the questions that may be asked in a webinar, however, the session is timed and therefore vital for students to listen attentively so as to not repeat the same questions. A webinar's purpose is to recreate the “in class” experience whilst you’re in the comfort of your own surroundings. Therefore, you should feel at ease to switch on your web cam and engage with others. It is not a place to show off, or make jokes, but rather a place to respect each other and be conscious of time.

Treat every online forum as you would a real-world conversation and you’ll be fine. Good luck with your online student relationships! If you are keen to know what it is like to be a digital online student with SGI, then you should read our eBook here.


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