The term ‘netiquette’ is a combination of “network” and “etiquette”. It is defined as a set of rules for appropriate online behaviour. The defiance of these netiquette rules can be perceived as a lack of courtesy.
Communicating online is very different from communicating in person. It cannot be presumed that all students will know how to behave appropriately and converse efficiently in an online classroom environment. Netiquette rules are important as they encourage civil and well-mannered behaviour online and prevent any misunderstanding from occurring. These rules ensure that the online classroom is a respectful, safe environment where everyone can share their opinions and collaborate in an organised manner.
See our tips below to help you communicate effectively whilst learning online
You may find when you join online sessions that you are automatically muted. If not, please make sure that you mute yourself, unless you are speaking. This is important so that no one else present in the meeting is disturbed. Remember to let the lecturer know beforehand, if you are not in a location where you are able to speak without disturbing those around you; it is still necessary to attend the meeting and you might be invited to add your comments to the chat function instead.
Consider the online environment and the audience when communicating. A casual conversation with friends is very different from a respectful conversation with lecturers. Whilst typing a message to your lecturers and peers, make sure that you are careful with capitalisation. When words are in capitals, they may be interpreted as shouting and it will be considered rude. Likewise, avoid unclear humour and sarcasm as it may be regarded disrespectful. Remember to use your manners and say “please” and “thank you” when necessary.
Respect others’ privacy and do not give your peers’ and lecturers’ personal details and information to anyone without permission. It is also important that you do not share your own passwords, addresses and personal pictures without caution; remember, if it’s on the internet, it’s everywhere, so be extremely careful.
It is vital to be aware that everyone has different opinions and you may not agree with your peers all the time. Nevertheless, remember to respect everyone’s ideas. If you want to disagree with someone’s point, make sure to be polite and also acknowledge the valid ideas in that person’s discussion.
Although remote learning is different from traditional classes, an online classroom is still a classroom; it is an environment where everyone can share their opinions and be met with respect, not judgement. And as with any academic argument, if you’re putting across your thoughts make sure the evidence you cite comes from credible sources, and be prepared to share them.
It is vital to stay on topic during your online class for all the content to be covered in the allocated time. It is easy to get side-tracked when many students are participating. However, sharing unnecessary information during a conversation can lose time which will only just disadvantage you and also may confuse other students. Try to only ask questions that are relevant to the current discussion. There is often a chance for general questions at the end of sessions, so consider keeping any questions or comments that haven’t been addressed to this point.
Finally, don’t worry if you make a mistake. Human beings make mistakes all the time especially when they undergo new routines and schedules. Online learning is no different and is most probably going to involve these disruptions. However, it is important to apologise when you make a mistake, such as being late, interrupting lecturers or peers and not doing assignments. Apologising indicates respect and lets your lecturer know that you are not heedless. If you do not recognise and apologise for your mistake, your lecturer may have to contact you personally to inquire about it.