8. - Communication Skills

In this course you are required to do a significant amount of reading and writing. For example, you are required to post in discussion groups and socialize with course participants. You also need to submit written assignments.

When you are participating in an online forum, take some time to formulate a response to a question or to add a posting to the discussion. Think about what you are going to post and then review it for clarity, grammar and overall tone. Is your point clear? Did you use any jargon or technical vocabulary that other students might not be familiar with? Does your posting run the risk of being seen as offensive or inflammatory?

If you are not used to communicating online, you may notice that it can be difficult to interpret “tone” in text materials or to give a clue as to the tone you wish to use. When the course facilitator or a fellow participant posts to a discussion forum, are they making a light-hearted comment or a serious one? Are they angry or upset? It isn't always easy to know based only on the written word. The discussion forums include a number of emoticons or smileys that you can use to show how you are feeling.

Emoticons are just part of what is known as “netiquette”. Netiquette covers a number of online behaviours and practices that are considered polite. For example, don't use all capital letters when posting to discussion forums or other places where you can make comments in your online course. Using all capitals is considered to be shouting. Be careful when using humour because it can be very personal; what you might find funny, someone else might find offensive.