MSU Denver

Become an informed online learner

Welcome to learning online! 

You may have taken some online courses before, and you also likely have experience with some form of electronic communication, but an online course is a newer way of learning and, as such, it has its own unique form of social interaction. This guide is intended to be an overview of the customary practices for interaction in this new environment. 

  • Be mindful of your professor and peers. Participating in an online class means you are still in a professional setting, regardless of where you are physically. Classes can be more engaging if you have your camera and microphone on, but remember that your fellow students and professors are real people and can be affected by your actions in an online class the same way they would be in person. It is essential to keep in mind the feelings and opinions of others, even if they differ from your own. 
  • Be aware of strong language, all caps, and exclamation points. Tone and facial queues are not present in virtual communication and your written message can be misunderstood. Being aware of how your message is written can go a long way in ensuring that your audience fully understands your intention with your message.  
  • Use humor and sarcasm when relevantAn online class can be just as enjoyable as being on-campus so it’s important to let your personality shine through. Many professors use humor to make the class more enjoyable, but the message can also get misinterpreted in an online setting. Make sure your audience knows when you are joking. Emojis can be helpful when conveying humor or sarcasm within a discussion boards or a class chat, but it’s always a good idea to read the room when respondingEven though emojis are a great way to get a point across quickly, they should not be used in academic papers or research.  
  • Grammar and spelling matters. Your written communication should be professional and reflect the virtual learning environment. Since online classes are within an educational setting, it’s always a good idea to follow the lead on the level of formality and professionalism from your professor. Generally, texting shortcuts are not appropriate in an online classroom. 
  • Always cite your sources. Just like any academic paper, if you reference another source, cite it. Even if you do not quote the reference word for word, it’s important to show that not all the ideas you posted were your own. This is just as important in discussion boards as research papers. 
  • Don’t share inappropriate material. All posted content in a virtual classroom is content intended for education and should reflect the professional tone of any classroom. Do not post inappropriate content. 

These rules were adapted from the following sources: 

Albion, (2015). The Core Rules of Netiquette — Excerpted from Netiquette by Virginia Shea — Retrieved 1 June 2020, from 

Connor, P., (2015). Netiquette: Ground Rules for Online Discussions. Retrieved 1 June 2020, from 

Madison College, (2015). Online Etiquette Guide | Madison Area Technical College. Retrieved 1 June 2020, from