It seems at times that some students fail to see that the same educational etiquette which applies to classroom learning also applies to online learning. With the explosion of online learning opportunities today students need to realize that even though online learning may seem less formal than in the classroom, many of the same rules still apply.
When posting in online educational forums the rules of spelling and grammar still apply. Using text speak in these forums is not only irritating but also unprofessional. This can end up not only offending teachers but classmates as well. Expectations of online learners are just as high if not higher than what is expected of students in brick and mortar institutions. When posting online it is critical to be succinct in what we are saying and how we say it. Proper punctuation of sentences, for example, can make all the difference in getting our thoughts across. A practice that I have found helpful is writing down my thoughts in a word processing program and running a spelling and grammar check before posting. This, no doubt has saved me from embarrassment on more than one occasion.
Just as critical to online success is sticking to the subject. When someone gets carried away and goes off on tangents, they just take away from the discussion rather than adding something relevant. Likewise there is the contributor who chooses to add something personal to the discussion. This does nothing but distract from the task at hand. The length of responses should be appropriate to the subject and forum. There is no need to impress others with our general knowledge. Stick to the subject.
Like in professional writing, proper manners and civility should prevail. One must be careful of the tone of their conversation. That is all we have to go on as far as reading someone’s intent. We have no body language or facial expressions to help us. A misplaced attempt at humor could end up offending and alienating a colleague. Once again, this is where the practice document can be helpful. Once we have our thoughts polished, we can just cut and paste. This extra step doesn’t take much extra time at all and can make the difference between making a point and insulting someone.
Finally we must remember that when we are posting in a public forum, it’s public. Anyone can read it. Sharing information on educational endeavors is a good use of a forum, but no one needs to see or hear others’ dirty laundry.