Documentation:Teaching Challenges: Online/Netiquette

From UBC Wiki


Like any place where people interact, Cyberspace has its own culture with its own range of expected and appropriate behaviours. What makes effective online communication sometimes difficult to achieve is the lack of gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice and other forms of body language that guide face-to-face communication, and which most of us take for granted. This can easily lead to a breakdown in communication, or worse, damaged social relations. These challenges can also be compounded by cultural and linguistic differences. What a student or instructor might consider clear, open and confident online communication might be misconstrued as rudeness, apathy or aggression.

The most important step in establishing effective online communication is to take a moment to consider the audience and what effect the message will have. In other words, consider ‘Netiquette’ and don’t simply assume that familiar everyday modes of written or verbal communication are fully applicable in an online environment.

Most of all, remember the human at the other end of the message. When responding to a difficult or contentious post, take the time to summarize the points in question to minimize the risk of misunderstanding, and when challenged, clarify your position and respond to the points raised, not the personality. Doing so can help to avoid many challenging situations before they arise and become serious or difficult to manage.

For further information and resources on netiquette, have a look at The Core Rules of Netiquette