Some educators are leading the way to school-based netiquette education with guidelines advising students on what to do, and what to avoid, in online communication. We've put together excerpts from some sample guidelines.
Florida Virtual School
This public virtual school for secondary school students includes netiquette in its online orientation for new students. Sections on posting to the school's discussion board and on emailing address key dos and don'ts. Among them:
Using the Discussion Board
- reread your post to make sure what you're saying is clear.
- keep your posts short and concise.
- keep your posts on topic.
- make fun of someone else's thoughts or opinions -- respecting your classmates helps ensure everyone can maximize the benefits of a discussion board.
- immediately respond to a post in anger -- responding to a post in anger may lead to classmate resentment. Also, other classmates may not be as inclined to participate in fear of how others may respond. Keep the discussion board friendly and on topic.
Using Educator Email
Have you ever heard of netiquette? Sounds like a fancy word, doesn't it? It's really not -- it just means good manners on the Internet. Since your email and discussions are on the Internet, you should always practice proper netiquette, or good manners. Use proper punctuation, refrain from using IM-speak (instant-messaging language) or slang, and keep in mind that people don't know what tone you are using in an email or discussion.
Finally, always remember to sign your first and last name -- there may be another student with the same first name as you. Do all this, and you will be a netiquette pro!
Modesto City Schools
This California school district requires users of student email accounts to review and abide by a document on email etiquette that addresses style, content, courtesy, and other key netiquette topics. Here are just a few of their commonsense rules.
- Keep messages short and to the point.
- Use mixed uppercase and lowercase letters. Text in all uppercase letters is more difficult to read, and IS CONSIDERED SHOUTING.
- Modesto City Schools does not monitor student email messages, but no email system is totally private -- think of an email message as a postcard being sent through the U.S. Postal Service. It is unwise to send very personal or sensitive information through email.
- A good rule of thumb to use with email is, don't put it in email if you would be embarrassed by your message being read out loud to your mother in a courtroom.
- Use an appropriate subject line; this will help the recipient locate or file your message in their in-box. (You have folders in your in-box that you can sort mail into.)
- Pay attention to grammar and spelling. Though email is less formal than letters, people will form an opinion of you based on how you write.
- It is a good idea to spell-check and read over every message before sending it.
- Sign all your emails with your name. If the email is being sent to a teacher, you should include your teacher's name and your class period.
- Before sending a message, consider whether you would say what you have written to the person's face. The detached nature of email will sometimes embolden people to say things they would never say in person.
- Instead of hitting Send, you may consider pressing the Save to Drafts button instead. . . . You can then come back and open the message later to review it when you are calm, and then edit if necessary before sending the message.
- It is much easier to delay sending an email than it is to try to repair the damage from a hurtful message.
- If you really can't help typing a furious response, don't send it immediately. Walk around the block, do some homework or watch TV, then reread your message and tone it down before sending it.
- Pay careful attention to where your reply is going; if a personal message ends up on a mailing list or listserv, it may be embarrassing for you and annoying for the other list members.
- If you receive an objectionable email via a mailing list, it is probably best to ignore it.
- If you were not expecting a message, it is usually best to just delete it without opening it. This will save you from having to read sometimes offensive or inappropriate messages.
Protecting Your Email Address
- You will invite spam to your in-box if you post your email address to Web pages.
- Do not use your email address to enter online contests or other drawing like events.
Bud the Teacher
Bud Hunt, also known as education blogger Bud the Teacher, posted a sample acceptable-use policy for educators to use with student bloggers. The page includes ideas for guidelines and invites input on improving them:
- Students using blogs are expected to treat blog spaces as classroom spaces. Speech that is inappropriate for class is not appropriate for your blog. While we encourage you to engage in debate and conversation with other bloggers, we also expect that you will conduct yourself in a manner reflective of a representative of this school.
- Students who violate the agreements here shall forfeit their right to school Internet access and will face other sanctions deemed appropriate by the administration.
- Student blogs are to be a forum for student expression. However, they are first and foremost a tool for learning, and as such will sometimes be constrained by the various requirements and rules of classroom teachers. Students are welcome to post on any school-appropriate subject . . . at any time, outside of their classroom requirements.
Read this article about the growing awareness of teaching good online and email manners.