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Tips for communicating online

When communicating with other students and your lecturer/s online, remember to always be courteous and use appropriate netiquette (Internet etiquette). In an online environment the majority of communications which occur are usually via the written word and can sometimes be misunderstood.

When communicating with someone face-to-face, there are a lot of visual cues that influence the conversation. Your tone of voice and the body language you use are just as important as what you actually say. When communicating with someone in an online environment (for instance in email or in a discussion board), these cues are missing and so it is more important to consider what you write before you hit Send.

Take a look at the following examples to see how the same message (and question) can be communicated in two very different ways. Which do you think is the most effective?

Tips for communicating online
Example 1: Face-to-face communication
Tips for communicating online
Example 2: Discussion board communication

The first example is one you may be familiar with – face to face communication between a lecturer and a student.

The same question is also posted to the discussion board (example 2) but as you can see, the use of ALL CAPS in the discussion board post makes it seem like the student is SHOUTING. If the message had been written in lower case it would have been much easier to read (and possibly appeared less ANGRY!).

We’ll provide you with some additional information regarding appropriate netiquette and the use of social media below.

Always ensure that you are clear and concise when writing anything and avoid using jargon or acronyms (LOL, OMG, LMAO) wherever possible. Never post anything when upset or angry, or anything that you wouldn’t want made public. It is very easy to share status updates or frustrations when online and although you may think you are only posting to your friends and relatives, a lot of communication online is actually viewable by the public.

For more advice and guidelines, take a look at the Curtin Netiquette guide for students.