Netiquette for Teaching English Online

Teaching an online class has its difficulties, not the least of which is reminding your students to be courteous and have good behavior when communicating through discussion boards. It is easy for them to forget that there is a human on the other side of that email. Many times people say something in written form that sounds good in their head, but the reader does not hear the tone of the writer. Misunderstandings quickly get out of hand. Add another dimension of not having good English skills to that equation, and you have a recipe for disaster. Learn netiquette for teaching English online and then give your students the tools they need to communicate effectively online.

Netiquette is a mix of language, the internet, and etiquette. Many of the guidelines are just good common sense, but when you are dealing with different cultures and people who do not have a strong command of the language, a written message could easily become convoluted. It is up to you, the instructor to set some rules for everyone involved in your class.



For Writers

  • Remind your students that when they are posting discussions or sending emails, they need to be authentic and respectful of others.
  • Avoid jokes or sarcasm because they just do not translate well in the online forums.
  • What you say online is difficult to take back.
  • Before you hit send, reread and edit if necessary.
  • If you are responding to someone else, put yourself in their shoes, and remember how you would want to be treated if you made a mistake.
  • Stay on topic when you post and respond.
  • Do not use all capital letters to post. (This is the equivalent of shouting).

For Readers

  • Think before you react.
  • Make sure that you consider the culture and gender of the writer.
  • Seek clarification about what was published.
  • Think about your own reaction and how it will be perceived within the learning environment.
  • Forgive mistakes and differences.
  • People can disagree without it turning into a free-for-all.
  • If you believe something does need to be addressed, go to the instructor who has the resources to deal with this problem.

For You, the Instructor

If you observe netiquette for teaching English online, your students will follow your lead. Set guidelines for the class and address problems quickly so that they do not get out of hand. When providing information about netiquette, do not use slang that might be difficult for your students to understand.

Giving your students good netiquette skills will help them feel confident in sharing their thoughts and ideas when they know they can trust others to respect their views. It will also give them confidence when communicating outside their class.

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