Online Etiquette for Students

Relatively speaking, online learning still is in its infancy. The health care online careers offered at Concorde are even newer. That being said, it’s quite possible students aren’t yet aware that there is a certain way of behaving, of doing things, while online. Call it online etiquette. You’re not sitting alongside fellow students in a classroom. There’s no whispering, passing notes or raising your hand to speak.

It’s a different world, very much unlike our traditional programs. You’re on your own, on your own time, in your own space.

Still, there are rules.

With that in mind, we enlisted the help and expertise of Concorde’s Dean of Online Operations, Nikki Fox, to spell out some of the rules of etiquette for working and learning online.

What we believe is “gone” isn’t

Online etiquette is critical not only to a student’s success, but also could impact a future career, Fox cautioned. Much of what we believe to be “gone” when we hit the delete button isn’t.

When a student in a health care online careers program posts to a discussion board, there is a certain piece of anonymity. Therefore, we sometimes let our manners go out the window.

“It is important to maintain respect and discipline at all times,” Fox said. “Who’s to say the instructor teaching from a different city or even state may not one day become our supervisor or someone we need for a recommendation?”

Fox said she has in the past read some horrendous comments left by a frustrated student, and the lasting impact the type of communication has on both the instructor and the overall student/professor relationship can be almost unsalvageable.

“We always encourage students to discuss their frustrations, but it should be done after a cooling-off period and in a healthy way,” she said. “Read, out loud, what we have written before we hit the submit or send button. Does it sound OK, or would the typical person find the tone to be cold or full of conflict? Are we still frustrated when we read it back, or worse yet, after we have calmed down and we read it back do we become frustrated again?

“If so, don’t send it. Wait a little longer and then figure out a better way to reword the comment or communication.”

When studying health care online careers, be constructive, not personal

Fox said, when we interact with our peers on discussion boards, we also need to be cognizant of constructive criticism. Don’t personally attack another’s ideas. Discussion boards are NOT personal, but rather a place to have educational banter that is supported by outside sources.

“It is OK to disagree and often encouraged,” Fox said. “But, try to reflect on why we disagree with another person. Is it because of our own beliefs, or because we have read something to the contrary? If so, great. Then provide outside support for the disagreement, provide the reference and encourage thinking outside the box.”

When all else fails, Fox said, it’s always a good idea to follow a rule mothers typically tell their children.

“If you can’t say anything nice,” she said, “don’t say anything at all.”

 

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