What Is Netiquette and Why Is It Important in Online Learning?

Netiquette refers to rules and guidelines for etiquette on the Internet. Netiquette is important in online classes because it causes communication to be more professional, clear and polite, enabling students to exchange ideas freely and offer input on assignments and online forums and via e-mail.

Netiquette is comparable to appropriate manners in a professional or academic setting. Online communication in a virtual classroom is non-oral; therefore, when students use netiquette and follow guidelines for appropriate and expected online behavior, the message is less likely to be misinterpreted.

Proper netiquette discourages people from flooding another person’s e-mail inbox with spam mail or forwarded messages or misusing social network sites by posting personal information unrelated to the online course. In addition, especially in an online class, netiquette includes using standard fonts and font sizes that are a readable size. When communicating with an instructor or classmates, the caps lock feature should not be used as it is typically interpreted as yelling.

Netiquette involves using proper grammar, spelling and punctuation and avoiding slang, cliches or jokes that can be misinterpreted or perceived as offensive. Netiquette also includes following guidelines set forth by the instructor when communicating in an online classroom. For example, many discussion boards or forums are public; therefore, users should be aware that all information can be viewed by others. All exchanges should be constructive and avoid personal attacks.