An important part of being an online student is visiting your course on a regular basis, sharing opinions and ideas with peers, and developing connections with the students and instructor. Communicating in an online course is different from face-to-face courses, because you can’t use nonverbal cues such as body language or tone to understand one another. There are some basic guidelines that can help students get the most out of connecting with others online.
Types of Communication
Basic Tips for Online Communications
Read first, write later
When attending to discussion boards/forums, you should read all the updated material and responses before adding your response. This will help the conversation continue building and avoid repetitive comments. Also, if you have a question for the instructor, check the syllabus and any student questions areas before asking.
Reread and review before sending
A good practice for writing emails and submitting any text online is to read over and review materials before submitting: check spelling, grammar, and punctuation, make sure your comments are concise and convey the message you want, and make sure all files are attached. Drafting responses in a word document is also a useful way to avoid submitting incomplete posts.
Be careful with humor and avoid sarcasm
Humor is a great way to connect with classmates and show your personality, however written communication can be easily misinterpreted where there are no nonverbal cues. Think carefully about how your words may be interpreted, and avoid using sarcasm.
Always use appropriate punctuation
On the Internet, statements in ALL CAPS are read as shouting. On the other hand, neglecting to capitalize any letters can be offensive or unprofessional. Generally, it is best to use only one punctuation mark to articulate statements (Ex. I found the explanation of parts of speech to be confusing! vs. I found the explanation of parts of speech to be confusing!!!!!!). Write as though you were writing to a boss or a professor, be as professional as possible.
Anna Vaccaro '12Communication Studies
Gender & Women's Studies
"Because of online courses, I was able to finish my degrees despite having limited childcare available to me as a single parent. As a student, I strongly benefited from the way the online format encourages active participation skills. Passivity is not an option in a classroom style that requires you to consistently, meaningfully contribute to the class in order to prove your presence and earn your grade."