15 Key Netiquette Guidelines to Share with Your Students

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Netiquette is the digital equivalent of the traditional etiquette. Netiquette  (net + etiquette) is the code of proper conduct applied to communication on virtual online spaces. This code is dictated by common sense rules (manners) and social conventions.  Every teacher using technology with their students should definitely craft what I call a 'netiquette manifesto' for their class. 

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The manifesto should clearly articulate the general guidelines and rules underlying the proper and responsible use of online communicative spaces. Understanding the ethos of netiquette is a prerequisite for effective online communication.  

Unlike in-person face to face communication where the heuristics of body language and facial expressions complement verbal interactions, online communication especially text-based forms of communication, is more prone to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. 

Figures of speech such as sarcasm and irony can easily backfire and create reverse meanings because text alone does not usually convey the full communicative power of words. When we speak, our gestures and body expressions provide important cues to back up the intended meanings we seek to convey through our verbal message, which is not possible when we type on our keyboards.

It is true that emojis and emoticons can enhance the expressivity of written messages, yet  these symbolic creatures can never replace the communicate work done by body language hence the importance of netiquette.

As a set of rules of behaviours, netiquette regulates online communication and helps students interact, talk, discuss, share and learn together in respectful and meaningful learning environments where collaboration and diversity are celebrated. So, what are these netiquette rules?

Because they are social norms, netiquette rules are culture sensitive and what works in a given context might not necessarily work in a different context. When writing netiquette rules, teachers need to take into account cultural and social considerations.   

That being said, as global netizens who interact in the same virtual space, our communication is regulated by a general sense of global netiquette rules.  These rules are less context dependent and therefore serve as guiding signposts towards polite and courteous interactions in online spaces.

For instance, saying please and thank you when asking questions, respecting speaking turns, abstaining from bullying or from being mean to others, acknowledging diversity of opinions...etc are all generic  netiquette rules to be used cross-culturally. 

For a detailed list of netiquette rules to use with your students, I am sharing with you this handy visual created and shared by Touro College,  The visual outlines 15 netiquette rules students should abide by while interacting in online discussion boards. In fact, these netiquette rules are also valid for any other virtual space and not only discussion boards.

Created by Online Education Blog of Touro College
More sources:
What is netiquette? (Britannica)
Digital Literacy: Computer Skills, Netiquette & Internet Safety (Bow Valley College)