Study with Netiquette: Five rules for being a good online classmate

Woman with headphones around her neck types on a laptop seated at a kitchen table.

We learn classroom etiquette from a young age in school, but attending class online is a different learning environment. Most online classes have a discussion requirement in the online class space or learning management system. To make the conversation portions productive, you need to practice good “netiquette.”

Here are some tips to improve your online interactions so that you’ll get the most out of the critical discussion portions of your classes with ODUGlobal.

Be sure to identify yourself.

When you respond to a question or comment, your name might auto-populate on the screen, but remember that your classmates might not know who you are, especially in the beginning of the semester. Be sure to introduce yourself when appropriate early on, and share pertinent details about yourself that may add to the discussion and more clearly explain your position. For example, if you’re discussing finance, experience as a homeowner could be worthwhile to share.

Stay on relevant subjects.

Sometimes it is okay to add in a little off topic conversation, but as a rule of thumb, try to stick to the topic at hand. Conversation threads, especially spirited debates, can get sidetracked quickly.

Avoid sarcasm and be careful about language.

Some things just don’t translate well in a text format. A lot is lost in tone, for example, so it’s best to avoid sarcasm or statements that are anything other than clear and direct.

Acknowledge comments and ideas.

Because online discussions don’t always happen in a typical discussion time frame, when ideas are expanded upon it’s important to acknowledge the first commenter who brought up the point. This helps classmates follow a clear line of thinking, and gives proper credit where it’s due.

Be selective with emoticons.

Emojis or emoticons can occasionally help enhance a message, but they can often take away from the professionalism of a comment as well. Try to use your written comments to convey emotion or intention rather than emoticons. Also, emoji use often depends on which version of a cell phone or browser you have — if someone views your comment on an older phone, your emojis may not show up at all.


Are you ready to start and participate in your own online conversations? Take a class or get your degree with ODUGlobal! Check out our available programs by visiting, or contact us for more information.

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