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eLearning is like a sewer, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.

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Expectations

#bestpracticemonday – Netiquette for the Online Course

NetiquettePart of setting your students up for success in any course is to create a culture of success.  We create a culture of success by ensuring students know what is expected of them and in some cases involving them in coming up with some of those expectations.  Online students come into a course with their own thoughts and musings how about the course should operate and how they should interact with others.

Being proactive in establishing a positive culture of communication can mean the difference between student satisfaction and student frustration.  A great way to encourage positive interactions in your course is to establish Netiquette or Internet Etiquette expectations for your online course.

This blog post will cover four different types of Netiquette for the online course.  It is not an exhaustive list, but a great starting point or template from which to work.  We will look at the following four areas:

  1. Netiquette – General Guidelines
  2. Netiquette for Discussion Forums
  3. Netiquette for E-mail
  4. Netiquette for Chats/Webinars

GuidelinesNetiquette – General Guidelines

  • Keep caps lock at a minimum for emphasis: IT MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE YOU ARE YELLING
  • Be careful when using humor or sarcasm as much can be lost in translation and give offense in the online environment
  • All communication should be at a college level and include correct spelling and grammar
  • Treat fellow students and instructor with respect in all types of online-communication (e-mail/chat/discussions/web meetings)
  • Use clear and concise language (e-mail does not easily reflect your implied meaning)
  • Avoid text speak and slang (sorry, no LOL, ROFL, LMBO or IMHO)
  • Use standard fonts and font size: Arial/Times New Roman, 11-12 pt font
  • Only use emoticons when appropriate ☺

Discussion Forums GraphicNetiquette for Discussion Forums

  • Review and edit post BEFORE posting
  • Spell-check, Spell-check, Spell-check
  • Stay on Topic
  • Cite any sources you reference in your post
  • No flaming or personal/insulting remarks
  • Provide well thought out replies to thread postings, “I agree” and “Great Post” are unacceptable
  • Be respectful of others’ opinions
  • Read previous messages in a thread BEFORE replying
  • Don’t regurgitate someone else’s post, make your own

E-mailNetiquette for E-mail

  • Include your name and return address in the e-mail signature
  • Be brief: Don’t try and write the sequel to War & Peace
  • Make your subject line descriptive
  • Limit the use of Reply All, does everyone need to see your response?
  • Be forewarned about “forward”:  Be sure the original author is okay with you passing his/her e-mail on

WebinarNetiquette for Chats/Webinars

  • Don’t play with the whiteboard tools unless directed to do so by your instructor
  • If you are sharing your desktop be sure only topic appropriate windows are open
  • Use a headset/microphone combo, online meeting attendees don’t want to hear themselves through your speakers
  • Do not talk over others
  • Wait your turn to speak/use web cam
  • Make sure everything works BEFORE the session begins don’t try and get technical support in the middle of a lecture
  • If using a webcam be sure you have appropriate lighting, appropriate attire and limit distractions (pets, spouses, roommates, children)
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Expectations

Note:  I actually posted this article on the SHSU Online Blog, but thought it worth while to share here as well.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in online courses for students is having their expectations of the course meet reality.  There are two easy steps you can take to ensure your students know what to expect in your online course.

  • Place learning objectives throughout the course
  • Create an Expectations content item

Place Learning Objectives Throughout the Course

Due to accreditation requirements, your objectives will show up in your course’s syllabus so the students will be able to find them there.  However, you can really reinforce what the students will be getting out of course units and items by placing Unit and even Content Item level objectives.  Starting out each unit by letting students know what they can expect from it will remind them why they are involved in those activities and reinforce with you the desire to align your curriculum.  Putting an assignment level objective will go further to reinforce what they are learning and why.

Create an Expectations content Item

A great way to cut down on student confusion about course expectations and activities is to create an Expectations content item in your course.  This part of your course should contain 2 sets of expectations:  What you expect of your students and what your students should expect from you.  You can even have your students post that they have read and understood the course expectations as a gateway for your course content.

Examples of Course expectations:

Expectations of Students

  • Use the virtual office to ask general course questions
  • Check the course homepage, discussions and their e-mail several times a week
  • keep up with reading assignments, activities, assignments and quizzes
  • Participate actively in class discussions, responding to at least 2 colleagues for each forum
  • Practice Netiquette in the course.  No flaming (negative hurtful comments); use correct grammar and spelling; don’t yell (write in all caps)

Expectations of Instructor *These will vary depending upon your comfort level

  • I will read and respond to discussion posts directed at me, e-mails and other forms of communication daily (not on weekends)
  • I will post grades for your assignments and exams quizzes within a week of submission
  • I will have office hours at these days/times: (insert times here) via Skype (Skype address here) or via phone (phone number here)

Letting your students know what to expect from you and what you expect from them will go along way toward ensuring a successful experience for them and you in your online course(s).

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