Communication guidelines: Netiquette
Communication is key in educational processes. The following guidelines are taken from experience and the so-called netiquette norms (rules of honesty, courtesy, and respect in network environments), and aim to generate good communication among all participants, the basis for a productive learning environment. While they were created from the perspective of written language, they apply- sometimes with slight variations- to spoken language and images as well. The core message is respect for others in any type of interaction.
For now, these are not official ITESO-approved guidelines, but professors can include all or part of these guidelines in the specific rules of their course, and even establish consequences if they are violated.
On language and its content
- Communication is personal, and there is a proper type of language for each individual and environment; identify these characteristics and use the right kind of language.
- Due to the relative anonymity that exists online, some people slip unthinkingly into offensive language; avoid it.
- Organize your ideas; think ahead of time what you want to write or communicate. Read your messages one more time before sending them off.
- Use titles that give the reader an idea of the content of your message. Titles such as "Urgent" or "I need help" are too generic. If the topic in a message thread has changed and the title no longer reflects it, it is best to modify the title.
- It is a good idea to correct spelling, although certain media sometimes establish their own communication codes. Make sure that your medium and code are acceptable.
- It is better not to send emails that only say "thank you," "take care," or "see you later" when the conversation is over.
- The initial greeting and the closing of a message are important, as they can enhance or taint the message, depending on how they are used.
- Be careful of non-verbal communication in virtual environments, as the tone of your writing can make a big difference. Gestures, intonation and the pitch of your voice do not usually play a role in online communication, so make sure your words do not sound curt or harsh. The use of emoticons can help to indicate the tone you want to convey in your message.
…content and copyright
- Avoid copying and pasting the words of other authors without adding any input of your own. You must always quote the sources you have used; otherwise, it could be considered a copyright violation. Remember that plagiarism is not acceptable and can have serious consequences in an academic context..
- Write short messages. Reading on a screen is different from reading on paper, and people appreciate it if messages are not too long.
- Do not write in capital letters or with a very large font; this suggests that you are upset or yelling, and also makes the message hard to read.
- Use bullet points, indentations, paragraphs, and lists to make the text easier to read.
- When you cannot identify yourself due to the characteristics of the medium, sign your messages. Knowing who is talking to whom facilitates real communication.
Interaction with others
- Decide when the response to a message should be sent to one or all of the parties involved. Avoid unnecessary general messages; avoid message chains.
- Consider sending confirmations of received messages, thus letting the other party know that communication has been established.
- Do not expect an immediate response to an email. Even though it is sent almost instantly, this does not mean that your contact will read it and answer right away. There are more effective forms of communication if you are looking for an immediate response (telephone calls and instant messaging).
- You should check the interaction section of your virtual courses at least once a day. This does not mean you have to respond or participate, but you should be aware of what is happening.
- Distribution lists: When you send a message to many people- especially when they do not know each other- it is best to hide their email addresses by entering them in the "blind carbon copy" (CCo-Bcc) space, and entering your email address in the recipient (To) space. This ensures the privacy of the people involved and avoids the proliferation of junk mail (spam).
- When responding to an email, you can include the original message or a part of it to give the recipient some context. In a forum, or a space with multiple participants, you can mention the name of the person you are addressing, and even repeat his or her idea so the other members can follow the thread of the discussion more easily.
- Pay attention to the size of the attached files and information that you send. In emails, for instance, it is advisable to send a separate email to give notice of the files attached and their size. This allows recipients to evaluate- according to their connection speed- the time it will take to download them. Sometimes it is recommendable to upload files to an Internet site and provide the links to them in the email.
- Do not post personal messages on public platforms; always take advantage of the tools offered by each application for this purpose (such Facebook's inbox messages).