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These are listed in no particular order and will be updated over time:

Blackboard Collaborate

  • Use a quiet space where you will not be disturbed.
  • Use a microphone headset as it reduces the risk of audio feedback and cuts down on background noise.
  • Make sure everything works before the session begins (always run the audio set up wizard).
  • Decide how you want to handle questions or comments at the start of the session and let your participants know this. The Raise Hand button is useful for organising questions (staff).
  • It is good practice to deselect the Talk button when you are not talking as this will reduce overall background noise.
  • Greet participants when they enter the room and let them know when the session will start (staff).
  • If you need to temporarily leave the session, it is common courtesy to use the Step Away button to let everyone else know.
  • Do not verbally abuse, attack, embarrass, or threaten anyone else in the webinar, no matter what they might say to you. Be aware that it is possible for moderators to remove a person from a webinar and turn off their video, audio and chat permissions if they behave inappropriately.
  • Do not use obscene, offensive, or sexually explicit language. You would not use this kind of language in a face to face classroom so do not do it in an online one.
  • Never type your chat messages in using all capital letters. This is considered to be shouting at another person, and this is not acceptable. Emphasis is harder to indicate in the chat window but the *asterisk* before and after the important words seems to work quite well.
  • When you leave the webinar, say goodbye (staff) and make sure all participants have left - this is particularly important if you are recording the session as the recording will not start to render until all participants have left the room.
  • Do not type in long, detailed messages that will take a lot of time and space.
  • Politely critique a position on an issue, but not the person.
  • If you are recording the webinar, remind your participants at the start (staff).
  • Don’t play with the whiteboard tools unless directed to do so by your tutor (participants).
  • If you are sharing your desktop be sure only topic appropriate windows are open.
  • Do not talk over others.
  • Wait your turn to speak or use the video.
  • If using a webcam be sure you have appropriate lighting, appropriate attire and limit distractions (pets, colleagues, phones, children).

Chat rooms

  • Do not verbally abuse, attack, embarrass, or threaten anyone else in the chat room, no matter what they might say to you.
  • Do not use obscene, offensive, or sexually explicit language. You would not use this kind of language in a face to face classroom so do not do it in an online environment.
  • Never type your messages in using all capital letters. This is considered to be shouting or yelling at another person, and this is not acceptable. If you want to *emphasize* a word or phrase, simply type an asterisk in before and then directly after your word or phrase.
  • When you are entering a chat room, you should always greet everyone whether you know them or not. Be sure to wait until there is a lull in any conversation already in progress, though. Do not interrupt. When someone else enters the room, you should make it a point to at least recognise their presence and greet them.
  • When you leave the chat room, say goodbye.
  • Do not type in long, detailed messages that will take a lot of time and space.
  • Try not to interrupt someone when they are chatting. Be patient; you will get your chance to contribute.
  • Do not ask lots of questions all at once, give other users time to think about what you have written and respond appropriately.

Discussion fora

The purpose of a discussion forum is to give students the opportunity to reflect on and exchange ideas about particular topics. With discussions, the more you put in, the more you will benefit from them. Last minute posts that are inaccurate, sloppy, disorganised and unclear help no one (least of all you). If you find that a post is unclear or inaccurate, it is your responsibility to ask the author for further clarification or to point out the inaccuracy (but please do this professionally and with courtesy). If someone replies to your post with a question, you owe them the courtesy of a response. You are also responsible for posting your answers and replies on time, so check any deadlines on Moodle.

Tutors will comment where appropriate on posts or discussion threads. In some cases this will be responses to individual posts but in other cases it will be a generic response to the group as a whole. Tutors may correct inaccuracies or lead discussions (particularly when a new topic is introduced) but in some cases they may step back and let the students correct any inaccuracies or even lead discussions.

In your communication with other students, please:

  • Clarify and support the position you take in your answer or reply.
  • Suggest ways in which an idea could be more clearly expressed.
  • Identify passages where you think the writer misunderstood a concept or applied it incorrectly.
  • Disagree with a point made in an answer, rather than the other person.

If you disagree with the views of another student, please:

  • Be constructive and respectful.
  • Politely critique a position on an issue, but not the person.
  • Avoid sarcasm, swearing, or language that would be considered rude or argumentative.
  • State precisely the point you disagree with.
  • Offer reasons why you think their view is incorrect and support your position by citing the text or other sources.

12 Netiquette ground rules for course discussions, email and internet postings

Participate: Please participate in the shared learning environment. Avoid lurking in the background. It is not enough to login and read the discussion threads of others. For the maximum benefit, everyone should contribute.

Report glitches: Discussion fora are electronic. They break. If for any reason you experience difficulty participating, please email, or otherwise inform your tutor of the issue so that it can be corrected as soon as possible.

Help others: When you have more experience with online discussion forums than your peers, please give them a hand. Show them a good example and they will appreciate it.

Be patient: Please read everything in the discussion thread before replying. This will help you avoid repeating something someone else has already contributed. Acknowledge the points made with which you agree and suggest alternatives for those with which you don’t.

Be brief: Make the effort to be clear and to articulate your point, without being preachy or pompous. Be direct. Stay on point. Don’t lose yourself, or your readers, in overly wordy sentences or paragraphs.

Use proper writing style: Write as if you were writing an assignment. Correct spelling, grammatical construction and sentence structure are expected in every other writing activity associated with scholarship and academic engagement. Online discussions are no different.

Cite your sources: If your contribution to the conversation includes the intellectual property (authored material) of others, e.g., books, newspaper, magazine, or journal articles—online or in print—give the proper attribution.

Emoticons and texting: Social networking and text messaging has spawned a body of linguistic shortcuts that are not part of the academic dialogue. Please refrain from :-) faces and c u l8r’s.

Respect diversity: Be sensitive to the ethnically rich and diverse, multi-cultural community in which we are participating. Please avoid any language that is—or that could be construed to be—offensive toward others. Racist, sexist and heterosexist comments are unacceptable, as are derogatory and/or sarcastic comments and jokes directed at religious beliefs, disabilities and age.

No YELLING! Step carefully. Beware the electronic footprint you leave behind. Using bold upper-case letters is bad form. It is the equivalent of shouting at somebody (NOT TO MENTION BEING HARD TO READ).

No flaming! Criticism must be constructive, well-meaning and well-articulated. Please, no tantrums. Rants directed at any other contributor are simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The same goes for profanity. The academic environment expects higher-order language.

Lastly, remember you can't 'unpost' messages: Language is your only tool in an online environment. Be mindful. How others perceive you will largely be up to you. Once you've hit the send button, you've put your thoughts out there so eview your written posts and responses to ensure that you’ve conveyed exactly what you intended. This is an excellent opportunity to practice your proofreading, revision and rewriting skills. Polish your presentation. Read your post out loud before hitting the send button. This will tell you a lot about whether your grammar and sentence structure are correct, if your tone is appropriate and if your contribution is clear or not.

N.B. This Discussion fora section has been adapted slightly from work undertaken by Salt Lake Community College - their version can be found at: