If you’re a student enrolled in an online university degree program, it’s important to recognize that there are certain behaviors expected of you when communicating with peers and faculty. There’s even a nickname for this expected conduct: “netiquette.” Following proper online etiquette can help you be a more effective and successful student because online engagement is so closely tied to your academic performance. Email, chat rooms, discussion boards, video calls. It’s all part of the online learning experience. And having the ability to clearly and properly communicate and interact with other students and faculty can be just as important to your success as how you perform on tests and assignments.
The following online etiquette guide will help keep you on time and on track as you navigate your way from online degree to the working world.
Being on time is paramount whether you’re online or not. It’s a really big deal because it lets others know you are respectful of the time they are taking to talk with you. If this is an area you struggle in, set up multiple reminders, from jotting down appointments on a sticky note to setting digital alarms on your laptop and smartphone. Being late for a phone call or virtual meeting creates a bad impression, so it truly is in your best interest to do all you can to avoid it.
Piggybacking off our advice to be punctual comes creating a digital calendar. Several calendar apps are out there, but keep it simple by using the calendar available through your email app or preferred web browser. This will easily help you keep track of appointments and assignments, ensuring you don’t forget something or aren’t unprepared. Again, you can create appointment reminders within your digital calendar. And if you really want to go all out in not missing a thing, you can also print your calendar for the day or week. Overkill? Not when it comes to keeping you in the know and on time. You might even want to start a new morning ritual—sipping a warm beverage while reviewing your calendar to see what the day has in store for you.
Proper grammar and punctuation, a good introduction, and an appropriate signature are all important elements of a well-crafted email. It’s important not to overlook this as you are writing to your mentor, faculty member, or cohorts. You can also think of every email as an opportunity to hone your writing skills. You can even be a little creative depending on your recipient and tailor each email with a bit of personalization (ex. “Dear ___, It was so great to connect with you about the midterm”). Be sure to proofread and run spell check before you push that send button.
In other words, be professional at ALL times, especially on video calls. We’ve all seen the comedic TV commercial featuring a male employee dressed from the waist up in business casual attire—and from the waist down in boxers. Or the cringe-worthy headline: “Educator forgets to turn off laptop’s camera, shares bathroom break with colleagues.” The obvious takeaways from these examples is to dress appropriately for a video call and, while you should always find a quiet place free of distractions for a work call, opt for any space except the bathroom.
During every call whether it’s on video or not, be sure to speak clearly, professionally, and be attentive and respectful of those speaking. Nothing is more aggravating than trying to engage in a conversation when you can tell you don’t have someone’s full attention.
If this all sounds like common sense, well, it is. But the beauty in this common sense approach to online etiquette is that putting these pearls of professional wisdom into practice can help make the most of your online experience. Being respectful, courteous, and having strong communication skills is bound to help you succeed whether you’re pursuing a university education, seeking networking opportunities, or interviewing for a job.