Netiquette refers to the rules of behavior that should be observed by instructors and students when communicating on the Internet and in online courses. It is important that instructors of an online course establish netiquette guidelines for their students in order to create a safe environment conducive to learning. Developing ground rules for how students should communicate online can help set expectations for student conduct and can also proactively prevent inappropriate behavior in learner-to-learner interactions. Communicating and modeling these guidelines can result in increased instructor presence and student participation in the course.
Consider the ten basic rules for netiquette when developing specific guidelines for your course:
- Remember the human
- Adhere to the same standards online that you follow in real life
- Know where you are in cyberspace
- Respect other people's time and bandwidth
- Make yourself look good online
- Share expert knowledge
- Help keep flaming—personal attacks, insults, swearing, intense language, bullying, etc.—under control
- Respect other people's privacy
- Don't abuse your power
- Be forgiving of other people's mistakes
It is recommended that instructors post their netiquette policy somewhere in their online course or syllabus, and it is not uncommon for instructors to ask their students to review and agree to the rules before participating in any discussions, group projects or assignments. For instructors who are using one of the course templates developed and made available by the CIRT team, these templates have netiquette guidelines already outlined in the Start Here module.
Some example netiquette guidelines that you might use in your course include:
- Use a salutation when addressing the instructor or classmates, and remember to use "please" and "thank you" when soliciting help.
- Avoid typing in all caps and using informal Internet slang or abbreviations.
- Refrain from using inappropriate or inflammatory language (curse words, swearing, slurs, etc.) and posting inappropriate or unrelated materials or pictures.
- Respect and acknowledge the ideas and opinions of your instructor and classmates even if you disagree.
- Run a spelling and/or grammar check before posting in the course or submitting assignments.
- Avoid posting, replying or emailing if you are frustrated or angry; likewise, avoid using sarcastic language—even as a joke—as it could be misinterpreted.
Information adapted from: Stavredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.