The Dos and Don’ts of Online Student Communication


Please read “The Dos and Don’ts for Online Student Communication” below.

Is there anything you would add to this list? Using your FIRST NAME and LAST INITIAL (or two initials if there is more than one of you with the same first name, last initial), answer yes or no below, and then support your answer with a clear explanation. If you voted “yes,” clearly state the behavior that you believe should be added to this list and explain how you feel it will positively impact our online discussions. If you vote “no,” explain why you think this list will effectively keep our online discussions respectful and supportive.

Once you have posted your response, read and reply thoughtfully to at least 1 other member of the class. Compliment strong additions to the list, ask questions, and build on ideas shared.


Dos and Don’ts of Online Student Communication

By Caitlin Tucker

Strategies for Creating and Maintaining a Safe Space:

  • Use each other’s names. Using a person’s name when you respond to his/her postings creates a friendly online tone.
  • Read questions and conversational postings carefully to avoid unnecessary confusion.
  • Compliment your peers when they post strong responses or contribute original ideas.
  • Ask questions. If anything is unclear or you want further information or insight on a topic, just ask. If you have a question, there are probably other members of the group who are confused and need further clarification as well.
  • Be considerate. Remember that your peers cannot see your body language or hear your tone of voice, so you need to keep your language direct and respectful.
  • Avoid slang, jargon, and sarcasm.
  • Listen to all ideas presented. Remember there is no right or wrong in a discussion. A variety of perspectives add depth.
  • Stay open minded.  
  • Respond instead of reacting. Do not write a response if you are angry or upset. Instead, wait until you have had time to calm down and collect your thoughts.
  • Really read your peers’ responses. Avoid skimming. Respect the time your peers have spent articulating their thoughts by reading carefully and thoughtfully.
  • Reread your messages before sending them to ensure that your ideas are clearly communicated and supported.
  • Critique the content, not the person.
  • Do not present your personal opinions as fact. Back up your ideas with information to strengthen your statements.
  • Courteously answer all questions addressed directly to you.
  • Make I statements when respectfully disagreeing. Sharing an opposing opinion or idea is an important part of discussion, but it needs to be presented in constructive manner that encourages further discussion.
  • Do not use all caps when writing. It is interpreted as yelling.
  • Avoid emotional punctuation, like exclamation points, unless you are complimenting an idea shared.

Now respond below as indicated in the directions.

Strong Sentence Starters: 

Rebecca’s comment made me think about…

Although Zach made a strong point that_________________________, I think…

I respectfully disagree with Lawrence’s assertion…

I really appreciate Deborah’s insight into…

Thank you, Manuel, for sharing…

I had not thought about Leigh’s point that…

Great point, Angela! Have you considered…

Even though Katie’s point is valid, I tend to…

Building on Dustin’s statement that…

In contrast to Michelle’s point…

Brady highlighted some key ideas when he said…

Caitlin, can you clarify your statement that______________________________?

Carmen, your posting reminded me of…

Lucy’s observation that ________________________ reflects…

Given what you know about___________________________ George, what are your thoughts on_____________________________?

Marcella, do you agree (or disagree) with…?

Robin, how would you define…?

102 Responses to The Dos and Don’ts of Online Student Communication

  1. Lauria M says:

    No. This list seems very accurate in portraying the characteristics of how to properly communicate with peers online. There isn’t really anything else that needs to be added to it. There are some excellent points that are made such as reading and rereading carefully before you post and keeping an open mind.

  2. Darien E. says:

    I think that these point can help create a safe online community and I will continue to use these strategies when online in class and at home.

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