University of Windsor Writing Tutorials including (APA Style, Essay Structure, Plagiarism, ...)
Purdue Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL) Guides for Writing Styles including APA and MLA
Netiquette Guide for Online Courses
Please also see Relevant University of Windsor Policies and Procedures
This guideline is adapted from the University of Memphis
It is essential for you, as a student, to recognize that the online classroom is a classroom, and certain behaviours are expected when you communicate with both your peers and your instructors. These guidelines for online behaviour and interaction are known as “netiquette”.
The purpose of the following information is to help you be a more effective and successful student when communicating via e-mail, chat rooms, or on discussion boards as a part of your online learning activities at the University of Windsor.
Why Netiquette is essential to you as an online student
Proper conduct in an online class is just as important as in a face-to-face classroom, with similar potential repercussions for failing to maintain decorum. Remember that it is common for a very substantial portion of your grade in an online class to function in how well you perform in online discussion areas and other “classroom participation” activities. Your ability to clearly and properly communicate in an online class can be every bit as important to your success as how you perform on multiple-choice tests and written assignments.
“Soft” Misconduct vs. Misconduct with Concrete Repercussions
Some forms of online misconduct are merely bothersome to others, with the impact being limited to your instructor or fellow students finding you annoying and them being less likely to take your thoughts seriously. Other forms of online misconduct can potentially cross a line into the area of academic dishonesty and be treated no differently than cheating on an exam or plagiarizing a paper. Therefore, you must take these guidelines seriously as they can have a real impact on your success as an online student. You want to avoid being guilty of misbehaviour in both forms regardless of the level of impact.
Below are specific instructions on how to be the most positive and effective digital communicator that you can be in all communication areas, but most especially in your online classes.
A. GENERAL GUIDELINES
When communicating online, you should always:
Treat your instructor(s) with respect, even in an e-mail or in any other online communication.
Always use your professors’ proper title: Dr. or Prof., or if you’re in doubt, use Mr. or Ms. (Corollary: Make sure if you use a gender-specific title that you are clear on their gender. Some names can be gender ambiguous. When in doubt, find a picture of them online.)
Unless specifically invited, please do not refer to them by the first name. Some will be OK called “Afshin” and others will expect to be addressed as “Dr. Rahimi”.
Use clear and concise language. Be respective of readers’ time and attention.
Remember that all university-level communication should have correct spelling and grammar.
Avoid slang terms such as “wassup?” and texting abbreviations such as “u” instead of “you”.
Use standard fonts optimized for online reading (e.g., sans serif) and a consistent and readable size (12 or 14 pt.)
Avoid using the caps lock feature AS IT CAN BE INTERPRETED AS YELLING.
Limit and possibly avoid the use of emoticons or emojis. Not everyone knows how to interpret them.
Be cautious when using humour or sarcasm as the tone is sometimes lost in an e-mail or discussion post, and your message might be taken literally or offensively.
Be careful sharing personal information online (both yours and others).
If you are in a health-care course, follow respective guidelines, including not sending confidential patient information via e-mail or posting online.
B. DISCUSSION BOARD “NETIQUETTE” AND GUIDELINES
When posting on the Discussion Board in your online class, you should:
Make posts that are on-topic and within the scope of the course material. If necessary, re-read the instructions from your instructor.
Take your posts seriously and review and edit your posts before sending. (Would you put sloppy writing with poor grammar in a formal research paper?)
Be as brief as possible while still making a thorough comment. Remember, this is a discussion area, not a doctoral thesis.
Always give proper credit when referencing or quoting another source. (Corollary: Do not copy and paste another student’s post and claim it as original as that is essentially plagiarism.)
Be sure to read all messages in a thread before replying.
Do not repeat someone else’s post without adding something of your own to it. (See corollary above regarding reuse of someone else’s post.)
Avoid short, generic replies such as, “I agree.” You should include why you agree or add to the previous point. The point of a discussion in an online course is to help you and other students learn through an in-depth consideration of essential topics.
Always be respectful of others’ opinions even when they differ from your own. When you disagree with someone, you should express your differing opinion in a respectful, non-critical way. (Corollary: Do not make personal or insulting remarks.)
Be open-minded, as that is one of the significant points of participating in an open classroom discussion.
C. E-MAIL NETIQUETTE
When you send an e-mail to your instructor, teaching assistant, or classmates, you should:
Send e-mails during business hours and expect response to your emails during business hours, unless urgent.
Always use the course code in your email subject line to make sure your instructor or GA is aware of the course your email is about.
Use a clear and descriptive subject line as a way to give them a reason to open your e-mail.
Be brief. Do not make the reader have to scroll to read the entire message.
Put the essential part at the very beginning. They may not read it to the end.
Avoid attachments unless you are sure your recipients can open them. This is especially important with many people using smartphones and tablet PCs to view the e-mail.
Sign your message with your name and return e-mail address. Make sure they know how to contact you back.
Think before you send the e-mail to more than one person. Does everyone really need to see your message? A good practice is to include the intended recipients in the “To” box and other people who may be required to see that conversation in the “CC” box. For example, when sending a critical e-mail to your TA/GA, and your instructor must also be included in the conversation, you can use your TA/GA’s e-mail in the “To” box and your instructor’s e-mail in the “CC” box. (Corollary: Be sure you want everyone to receive your response when you click, “reply all”.)
Similarly, be sure that the message author intended for the information to be passed along before you click the “forward” button.
If you send an e-mail while upset or angry, think about not sending it until you’ve cooled off. A 24-hour resting period is often a good idea.
Remember that your password is the only thing protecting you from pranks or more severe harm.
Always follow the University of Windsor’s campus guidelines concerning password security. Keep it private and never share it with anyone. If you have questions, call the campus service desk.
Change your password immediately if you think someone else might know it.
Always logout when you are finished using any secured system - especially if you are using a shared computer in a public place.
Overall, use common sense when communicating electronically. In the same way, you would present yourself in-person to make a positive and constructive impression you should always do the same when taking an online course. Remember that most of what we communicate to others is in non-verbal ways (body language, voice inflection, etc.) and all you have in online courses is in a text form. Make sure your digital impression is a clear and positive one.