15 Rules of Netiquette for Online Discussion Boards

“Netiquette” refers to the rules of etiquette that apply to online communication. Follow these 15 rules shared by Touro College to make sure you sound respectful, polite, and knowledgeable when you post to your class’ online discussion boards.

Netiquette Online Discussion Boards infographicvia Online Education Blog of Touro College

  1. Before posting your question to a discussion board, check if anyone has asked it already and received a reply. Just as you wouldn’t repeat a topic of discussion right after it happened in real life, don’t do that in discussion boards either.
  2. Stay on topic – Don’t post irrelevant links, comments, thoughts, or pictures.
  3. Don’t type in ALL CAPS! If you do, it will look like you’re screaming.
  4. Don’t write anything that sounds angry or sarcastic, even as a joke, because without hearing your tone of voice, your peers might not realize you’re joking.
  5. Always remember to say “Please” and “Thank you” when soliciting help from your classmates.
  6. Respect the opinions of your classmates. If you feel the need to disagree, do so respectfully and acknowledge the valid points in your classmate’s argument. Acknowledge that others are entitled to have their own perspective on the issue.
  7. If you reply to a question from a classmate, make sure your answer is accurate! If you’re not 100% sure when the paper is due, DO NOT GUESS! Otherwise, you could really mess things up for your classmates and they will not appreciate it.
  8. If you ask a question and many people respond, summarize all answers and post that summary to benefit your whole class.
  9. Be brief. If you write a long dissertation in response to a simple question, it’s unlikely that anyone will spend the time to read through it all.
  10. Don’t badmouth others or call them stupid. You may disagree with their ideas, but don’t mock the person.
  11. If you refer to something your classmate said earlier in the discussion, quote justa few key lines from their post so that others wont have to go back and figure out which post you’re referring to.
  12. Before asking a question, check the class FAQs or search the Internet to see if the answer is obvious or easy to find.
  13. Check the most recent comments before you reply to an older comment, since the issue might have already been resolved or opinions may have changed.
  14. Be forgiving. If your classmate makes a mistake, don’t badger him or her for it. Just let it go – it happens to the best of us.
  15. Run a spelling and grammar check before posting anything to the discussion board. It only takes a minute, and can make the difference between sounding like a fool and sounding knowledgeable.

What additional tips would you recommend be added to this list? Leave a comment with your suggestions!

Recommended Resources for Getting Started Designing Online Courses

Start Here

Photo courtesy Todd Dailey

With the interest expressed among my students in my summer course, ETT 511: Instructional Media and Technology, to learn more about designing “good” online courses as well as the frequent requests I receive from faculty on suggested resources for those getting started online teaching, I thought I’d share here a few of my favorite resources for those interested in learning more about the basics of designing and teaching online courses. While there are MANY different models to online course development, from individual “do it yourself” approaches where instructor designs and builds the course to more systematized and standardized production models where instructor works alongside instructional designers and other media development specialists, the following resources should be helpful to anyone interested in learning more about the mechanics of designing and teaching courses online.

Quality Standards

A good place to begin exploring online course quality is to look at some of the available quality standards that have been developed and adopted by institutions. While there are widely-accepted competencies for instructional designers as well as competencies for online instructors, a number of different online quality standards are available, a few of which include:

Books

Here are a few of my favorite books for beginners desiring “nuts and bolts” assistance getting started designing and teaching online:

Vai, M. & Sosulski, K. (2011). Essentials of online course design: A standards-based guide. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 0415873002

Smith, R. M. (2008). Conquering the content: A step-by-step guide to online course design. San Franciso: Jossey-Bass. ISBN: 0787994421

Thormann, J. & Zimmerman, I. K. (2012). The complete step-by-step guide to designing and teaching online courses. New York: Teacher’s College Press. ISBN: 0807753092

Elbaum, B., McIntyre, C., & Smith, A. (2002). Essential elements: Prepare, design, and teach your online course. Madison, WI: Atwood. ISBN: 1891859404

Palloff, R. M. & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN: 978078798825-8

Jossey-Bass has a fantastic book series, “Guides to Online Teaching and Learning” with titles on specific aspects of online teaching, listed at http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-814784.html

Tanya Joosten has compiled a resource list of additional books on online teaching here.

Online Courses

For those serious about embarking in the journey of online teaching, I highly recommend taking an online course where you can not only be exposed to online teaching technology but also pedagogical approaches that work well in the online learning environment. Here are a few of the available online courses and you might consider enrolling in:

Workshops

My colleagues and I with the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at Northern Illinois University offer a number of workshops for NIU faculty related to online teaching. These online workshops are archived and shared on YouTube here. A few notable workshop archives related to online teaching that you may find of interest include:

Other professional organizations devoted to quality online teaching, such as Illinois Online Network and Sloan Consortium, also offer workshops and short online courses worth checking out.

Miscellaneous

Here are a few additional resources that I highly recommend checking-out and bookmarking:

I highly recommend following the University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning for fantastic tips and resources, such as their faculty seminars in online teaching, teaching online community, and teaching online pedagogical repository (TOPR).

There you have it…a few of my favorite resources for online teaching. What resources do you recommend? Leave a comment with your suggestions!

How To Write Engaging Questions for Online Discussion Forums

Online asynchronous discussions are often incorporated by faculty into blended or online courses, providing opportunities for rich dialog among students outside of the traditional face-to-face classroom environment. A number of steps can be taken to promote an engaging and interactive online discussion, beginning with drafting the discussion questions that students are asked to respond to. This infographic highlights a variety of suggestions that can yield more meaningful and deeper online discussions.

How to Write Engaging Questions for Online Forums Infographic
Source: BangTheTable

For students in my summer course, ETT 511, you may in particular find these tips helpful as you draft the discussion questions for the week your group facilitates.

What additional suggestions do you have for writing engaging questions for online discussion forums?  Feel free to leave a comment with your ideas!

7 Learning Principles To Create Online Courses

Geri E. McArdle, in his book Training Design and Delivery, encourages training professionals to become familiar with 7 principles and them in their delivery of education. These principles certainly also apply to online instruction:

  1. Part or Whole Learning
  2. Spaced Learning
  3. Active Learning
  4. Feedback
  5. Overlearning
  6. Primacy and Recency
  7. Transfer of Learning

Creating-Online-Courses-Based-On-The-7-Principles-of-Learning-Infographic
Source: e-Learning Infographics

Additional commentary on these 7 principles is available here.

The Elusive National Online Opportunity

Despite assumptions of a boundless national market, online learning is mainly a regional endeavor. This infographic by Eduventures highlights some key building blocks of a successful regional online strategy.

National Online Market Infographic