Communicating with Peers and Faculty
As already noted elsewhere, good communication skills are vital in any online program. When communicating online, keep the following in mind:
1. Practice proper netiquette. This refers to the practice of being polite and civilized when communicating online. Often, for instance, the nuances of the written word can be easily misinterpreted in an e-mail, chat or discussion forum. It’s important to pay close attention to the following rules of thumb when communicating online:
- Don’t use all uppercase – it’s interpreted as screaming at the recipient.
- Colored fonts or fancy typefaces can be hard for many to read.
- Keep your emotions and emoticons  in check.
- Always address people by their name in an e-mail correspondence, and always conclude your message with a polite closing and your name.
- Proofread your online communications for spelling, grammar, and clarity before sending.
- Do not criticize another person’s opinion.
- If you are asked to critique someone’s work, do it in a constructive manner and support your critique with valid resources.
- Stay on topic.
- Show respect and don’t offend.
- Be precise and to the point.
2. Be actively engaged in a meaningful way. Your presence in an online course is often scrutinized via your ability to participate effectively in online discussions. This does not mean that you simply agree or disagree with the postings from your fellow students and the instructor. Instead, you should always contribute something meaningful and substantial to any online course discussion. In other words, stay actively engaged at all times to the best of your ability. Don’t hesitate to share your experiences and insights. Chances are you have a lot to offer to your peers through your unique perspectives.
3. Interact with faculty. Your instructors will be more than willing to communicate with you outside of the formal course structure on anything related to your studies. They may have dedicated office hours in which you can call, e-mail or live chat with them. Taking a proactive role in communicating with your instructors will give you the benefit of drawing from their expertise and knowledge over and beyond the actual online course interactions you will have.