Communicating Online

Asynchronous – Discussion Board

Asynchronous discussions take the form of posts and responses to a discussion forum or blog. In this type of discussion, the instructor will pose a topic and require students to post a discussion, respond and perhaps critique and evaluate their peer’s submission. Asynchronous discussion may be used to generate discussion solely among students.

Synchronous – Virtual Classroom

Synchronous discussions are real-time. The instructor will organize a specific time for a virtual meeting using and will provide topics for discussion. Synchronous discussions move rapidly and responses must be read quickly, thus emphasizing the ideas being expressed rather than who is expressing them. Students can send private questions to the instructor and receive a private response. Instructors will often record and archive virtual classroom sessions for students to review if a student missed the session.


Since this is an online course, most communications from the professor will take place via email and through the Announcements section of the course map.

All electronic communication from the professor will be directed to the Frostburg State University email address of the student.

Students are responsible for the content of all communications. As such, students must monitor their Frostburg State University email accounts frequently and regularly throughout the term.

It is expected that students will follow the following guidelines when sending email to faculty or fellow students:

  • Use your Frostburg State University email address only, as other may be filtered for spam
  • Use Subject Heading appropriately
  • Include a salutation
  • Include your name and a closing

The professor will utilize the Announcements section of the course regularly to provide students information related to the course. Students are advised to check this section with every log-on. Students are responsible for this content.

Written assignments will be submitted electronically through the module assignment link in Canvas, located with each assignment.


  • Be polite and respectful to fellow online participants by avoiding
    • Obscene language or sexual conversation
    • All-caps type, which is perceived as shouting
    • Repeating the same sentence continuously
    • "Flaming" others with emotional or angry messages
  • To communicate effectively in the online environment,
    • Use smileys, or emoticons, to show tone of voice or emotion :)
    • Use symbols such as asterisks (*) to emphasize words
    • Use acronyms such as "brb" (be right back) or "afk" (away from keyboard)

Netiquette and Group Dynamics: The Core Rules of Netiquette

(Adapted from Harasim, L., Hiltz, S.R., Teles, L., & Turoff, M. (1995). Learning Networks: A Field Guide to Teaching and Learning Online. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.)

This refers to your efforts to create a sense of online community. Positive climate building can reduce anxiety about communicating online, and contribute to a positive collegial environment. Climate building can be developed by:

  • Use of first names by participants.
  • Responding promptly to messages sent to you.
  • Use of reinforcement phrases (i.e., "Good idea!" or "Thanks for the suggestions," etc.).
  • Use of personalizing remarks (i.e., a reference to where you are working -- home, office, terminal, what is happening around you, the weather, etc.).
  • Avoiding hostile or curt comments. No objectionable, sexist, or racist language will be tolerated.
  • Displaying humor.
  • Promoting cooperation by offering assistance and support to other participants and by sharing ideas.

Beyond Netiquette: Do's and Don'ts

  • Demonstrating courtesy online is fundamental. (Absolutely no abusive or libelous comments will be permitted.)
  • Use only your real first and last name online.
  • Confidentiality: No one else should be given access to any of the conferences (either viewing onscreen or in print), without the previous consent of all participants and conferees.
  • Copyright & Plagiarism: Don't use the words or text of others without proper acknowledgement of the source (if this was in some public source), or -- if private (as in a conference) unless you first have the author's permission.
  • The use of humor can be very tricky; sometimes it is seen as sarcasm or derision rather than as funny. Symbols or parenthetic phrases (e.g., :-) or "ha! ha!") can help to convey emotional tone and help to prevent misunderstandings.