Online Communication

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Online Communication

In the online environment, professional communication is important.

In order to prevent misunderstandings and promote engaging, meaningful collaboration and learning care must be taken into how you communicate online. Classes will be composed of native and non-native English speakers and different cultures which bring a different point of cultural reference, understanding of humor and expectations of learning. This diversity enriches our courses and asks that we recognize our part in communicating responsibly.

General Tips for Online Communication

  • Always maintain a cordial and respectful tone in written messages.
  • When in doubt, ask yourself, ‘Would I feel comfortable saying this to the person standing in front of me?
  • Never use BLOCK capitals, which is shouting online.
  • Treat any online discussions, chats or email contributions confidentially. Remember, however, that email messages in general are not secure.
  • Reread your written text before posting or emailing.
  • Wait 24 hours before responding to a seemingly inflammatory message or post. Online conflicts unnecessarily tend to get blown out of proportion. A good rule of thumb is to give the author the benefit of the doubt and to end your response with a positive statement.
  • Check with your instructor on how long you should expect a reply from them. This may be found in the syllabus.
  • Assume good intentions and ask questions for clarity. Sometimes a tone can be misunderstood.  

Communication management:  Good online communication practice is also about being mindful of online communicators’ ownership, time and bandwidth. The following tips will help keep online communication manageable and enjoyable for all involved.

  • Acknowledge the owner of any material or sources that are not your own.
  • Never forward a written text without the author’s consent. Never forward an email that you can't verify the sender.
  • Avoid replying directly to emails containing file attachments – this unnecessarily fills up the original sender’s mailbox.
  • Be careful when using the reply features in email. Ask yourself if your message is really relevant to all recipients.
  • Check for the validity of email. Realize that hoaxes, spam mail, forgery and viruses are easily sent via email. When in doubt the mail is best left unopened and then deleted.

Because North Seattle College values respect and diversity, we have provided tips and guidelines for communicating and engaging in the online environment. 

Communicating Online

In order to avoid misunderstandings and to promote an encouraging environment for all communicators always take the following guidelines into consideration before posting, sending your message in any online communication

  • Be professional at all times.
  • Be considerate.
  • Be respectful of other people.
  • Be calm.
  • Humor and sarcasm.
  • Harassment and other offensive behavior.
  • Offensive material.
  • Copyrights and intellectual property.
  • Use Capital letters and bolding mindfully

Review Course Syllabus for Communication Guidelines. 

Discussion Board Communication

  • Be present on a new discussion group for a while so you can get a feel for the kind of messages and responses that are posted.
  • Keep messages relevant to the group.
  • Share what you know. It is what makes online discussions exciting!
  • Assume good intentions and ask questions for clarity. Sometimes a tone can be misunderstood.  

Review Course Syllabus for Communication Guidelines. 

Cultural Considerations

Keep in mind that different cultures bring different points of reference, different understandings of humor and different expectations of online communication. Every culture has rules that its members take for granted. “Few of us are aware of our own biases because cultural imprinting is begun at a very early age. And while some of culture’s knowledge, rules, beliefs, values, phobias and anxieties are taught explicitly, most is absorbed subconsciously.” Forbes magazine Carol Kinsey Goman 

An effective communication strategy begins with the understanding that the sender of the message and the receiver of the message might be from different cultures and backgrounds, communicating differently than you do.  Consider the following suggestions before posting or sending your message:

  • Avoid using complicated language, terminology, slang, idioms or local acronyms.
  • Be aware of differences in date formats and measurements.
  • Be careful with sarcasm and humor; avoid ridicule.
  • Allow extra time for responses, especially in chats.
  • Remember that language fluency does not reflect intelligence.
  • Assume good intentions and ask questions for clarity.
  • Admit mistakes and apologize.