MyLO - My Learning Online

Guidelines for Online Communication

Online communication is most effective when all the participants are following the same approach and ‘rules’ for positive interaction.

These guidelines should help you and your classmates have meaningful interactions, ensure that discussions are a positive experience for all, and help you to avoid unintentionally offending or annoying your lecturers and tutors.

Participation in discussions

Starting a New Thread

  • Think carefully about the subject that you choose:
    • it should be a concise summary of the key point of your post (it may work best if you type your subject after writing your post)
    • it is what your classmates will use to judge whether or not to read your post - use it like a great headline that lures readers in
  • Be sure that a new thread is the best option:
    • read the posts that have already been made in the discussion topic - if your ideas are along a similar line, or could be connected in any way (especially if you disagree) with another post, it is better to reply to this post than to start a new thread (this builds and develops a discussion, rather than a disconnected list of posts from each individual)
    • you should only start a new thread if your idea or ideas are not related to any of the other threads already in the topic

All posts

  • Make sure that you have read the instructions carefully:
    • re-read the description or instructions for the Discussion Topic to make sure that you are posting in the most suitable place for your purpose
    • check that you have addressed the question or task set for the Discussion Topic you are posting in
    • if the discussion is assessed, read the criteria and assessment rubric carefully before writing your post, and then check your post against the standards before clicking the post button
  • Read all the posts before making your own to avoid repeating the same idea as another student - if you have similar ideas, reply to their post and try to add something more to the idea
  • Use standard grammar and spelling:
    • all communication on MyLO is expected to meet university-level standards, and requires an appropriate level of formality. Therefore, it is not appropriate to use slang, foul language, or instant messaging and SMS style abbreviations
    • use the check spelling feature to ensure that you have not made any spelling errors in your post - spelling and grammar errors detract from what might otherwise be useful contributions to a discussion
  • Be sure that your post uses the right tone:
    • read your post aloud to get a sense of how it might sound to others - avoid humour, irony and sarcasm as these are rarely identified or interpreted correctly in writing where facial expression, body language and tone of voice are unavailable
    • when disagreeing with a post, be sure to direct your criticisms at the argument/statement, not at the person who made it - put yourself in the writer’s shoes when re-reading your post prior to posting it and ask ‘how would I feel if this was written as a response to me?’

Replying & Quoting

  • Be clear about which ideas or arguments you are responding to when replying to a post:
    • include a frame of reference in your post by quoting or summarising the content you are responding to. For example, your post could start with: When you noted that including all of the previous post in a reply can be confusing, Phillip, I recalled one of my previous units where…
    • do not select ‘Include original post in reply’ in your Discussion settings. If you wish to include part of a previous post in your reply, either provide it in context as above, or cut and paste just the specific phrase or sentence that is relevant
  • Use hypertext or a citation and reference when referring to content or ideas of other people:
    • if you are quoting, summarising, paraphrasing or referring to a source found online, it is best to provide a direct link to it within the text of your post (as you will have seen in most good quality blogs)
    • if there is no online version of the source, follow the referencing style that you are required to use in the unit for your assignments
  • Create a new subject every time you post a reply. Remember, the subject should be a concise summary of the content of the post, and the subject that the person before you used should not apply equally to your post.
  • Do not waste everyone’s time with an ‘I agree.’ or ‘Me too!’ post.  As noted by Stodel, Thompson,and MacDonald (2006), students become frustrated with the use of ‘good point’ and ‘I agree’, feeling that the discussion then becomes overly positive and lacking in depth. Make sure that your post adds something to the discussion, rather than being a post for the sake of posting.

Sending emails

  • Use your UTAS email account
  • Be sure that an email is the appropriate form of communication for your purpose:
    • Check your unit outline and MyLO for information from your lecturer and tutors about their preferred form of contact - your request or query may be more appropriate as a Discussion post, a question during class, or through a scheduled meeting during their office hours
  • Use courteous, formal, standard English when writing to your lecturer or tutor. Regardless of how friendly your relationship with the teaching staff of your unit is, any emails sent to them in relation to your studies in the unit should be written in a formal and polite manner, and like a discussion post, the language used should not include text or instant messaging abbreviations
  • Include an appropriate subject line and an accurate signature:
    • Subject lines should include the Unit Code and your reason for writing - check your Unit Outline and on MyLO for any further instructions about subject lines of emails
    • Your signature should include, at a minimum:
      • Your full name, as it appears on your university enrolment information
      • Your student number
      • Your email address