Discussion Netiquette

The clear, respectful, and professional expression of our ideas, whether in person or virtually, is important to successful communication. Remember, there is always a human on the other side of an online conversation. When communicating with other students and your instructors in the online environment, please remember the following: 

Quality Posts 

  • Review the discussion question and, if available, the rubric. Stay on topic. 
  • Read what others have posted to avoid repetition. 
  • Be concise. Organize your ideas and post messages that focus on one major idea. If you have more than one idea to cover in your post, either start multiple threads or multiple messages with meaningful subject lines or use headings and text formatting to organize your message. 
  • A subject line is bolded text before beginning the body of your post. Type your bolded subject line, hit return a few times, and then begin your post. Come up with a unique and representative subject line for each thread. As a new idea emerges, we encourage you to change the subject line as appropriate. 
  • Do not present someone else’s words as your own; cite sources that you reference in your posts. In other words, if you are not posting your own thoughts, cite it. (See the guidelines of avoiding plagiarism.) 

Offer Context 

Include a short quote from the person to whom you are responding (rather than their entire message) or the resource (with citation) to which you refer. 

Use subject lines that convey the content of your post. If your response will add new content, change the subject line to reflect that. Doing so helps participants locate threads they want to read and discuss and to find information later. 

Deepen the Discussion 

Avoid posting ONLY short phrases, such as “I agree,” or “Good point,” to your discussion threads. 

If you do want to agree to or encourage another student’s post, feel free to post short phrases such as “I agree,” but then go on to support your position with a substantial post, ask probing questions, or offer an alternative viewpoint. In other words, don’t stop at agreement; deepen the conversation with further contributions. 

Timing of Discussion Posts 

To allow a true discussion to emerge, post your comments early in the discussion period rather than waiting to the last minute.   

Respond to anyone who replies to you or asks a question related to your post. 

Be Professional 

Check your grammar and spelling. Canvas does have a spell check tool, but it’s not as robust as the one found in Microsoft Office. Try drafting your message in Word, running the spell check, and then copying to your discussion post. 

Write with a professional style. The way you communicate in an online course discussion board should be similar to the way you would communicate in the face-to-face classroom or in emails with your coworkers. Avoid using texting jargon and abbreviations in your messages. Remember that posting in all caps means you are shouting. Emoticons/emojis can be helpful in communicating tone but should be used minimally. 

Be Respectful 

Be respectful when posting messages that contain strong opinions or surround controversial topics. It’s ok to disagree on an issue, but direct your comments to the topic up for discussion rather than to the individual. 

Maintain privacy of any information posted by your peers. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of all students.  

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