Communication skills are vital in online learning because students must seek help when they need it.
Instructors are willing to help students, but they are unable to pick up on non-verbal cues, such as a look of confusion on a student's face. Here are some tips to communicate effectively in a virtual space.
Use the tools provided by the school to communicate with your instructors. These might include e-mail, discussion groups, chat room office hours, cell phones, and even text messaging. Instructors want to help you to succeed in your classes and will answer your questions. It may feel awkward to talk with your instructors this way, but don't worry. If your instructor has chat room or cell phone office hours, don't be shy about using those tools to communicate with your instructor.
Use appropriate style and language for school. When communicating with instructors and other staff, you should write in full, grammatically correct sentences and with a respectful tone. Many students are used to a very informal style of writing in chat rooms, blogs, text messages, and so forth.
Because of the distance, it's tempting for some students to say things out of anger or frustration that they would never say to an instructor in person. Online teachers are professionals. Treat them with respect and courtesy.
Netiquette refers to a code of behavior to promote professional digital interaction. When attending an online class or in a breakout room, treat the experience as you would an in-person class, especially if you are required to show yourself on video. Think about how you are presented both in words (in a Chat or other typed discussion board), in sound (because everyone can hear all of the sounds in the room you are in), and in image (because everyone can see you and the background - real, virtual - behind you).
Include a subject line. Give a descriptive phrase pertaining to your message (not just “Hi!”)
Avoid sarcasm. People who do not know you may misinterpret your meaning.
Acknowledge and return messages promptly. Check your student email and course messages for important information sent to you from your instructors.
Use appropriate language. Avoid coarse, rough, or rude language. Observe good grammar and spelling.
Use appropriate intensifiers to help convey meaning. Avoid “flaming” (online screaming) or sentences typed in all caps. Use asterisks surrounding words to indicate emphasis.
Any derogatory or inappropriate comments regarding race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation are unacceptable and subject to disciplinary action.
Remember that distance learning interactions are still overseen by the Student Conduct Code and all prohibited conduct, including academic misconduct, alcohol/drug violations, computer abuses, bullying, harassment, violence, and discriminatory acts, will be sanctioned as appropriate.