Five tips to mastering online etiquette

You’ve recently realised studying online is the best option for you – congratulations! Your career will thank you. Now, how do you make the most of your time online, and most importantly, how do you do it well?  

This is a non-traditional setting that allows you to study anywhere, meaning it’s more informal. Even with this freeing element, there remains a level of etiquette that you should carry into the digital classroom, allowing you to reap the full benefits 

This blog will highlight the top five ways you can use online etiquette to maximise return – and maybe make a few valuable connections along the way.  

Be respectful

In the same way you would in-person, show your classmates courtesy and respect. It’s likely you’re all working professionals looking to make long-term connections, so putting your ‘best foot forward’ is key to earning that connection with your cohort.  

One way you can maintain a level of professionalism is to be aware of time differences when working on forums or assignments. It may be 7pm for you, but 4am for your classmate – so be patient with responses and contribution to work. This goes without saying, antagonising a classmate or your Facilitator may damage your relationships with other professionals, who could be an asset to your network.  

Communicate clearly

You’ll spend a lot of time writing to peers and your Facilitator as well as face-to-face virtual chats. When writing, always ensure you’re being as clear as possible. Your cohort is likely comprised of individuals from all around the globe, so cultural idioms (turn of phrase) or jokes that might be perfectly normal for you may not translate well with others.  

When in doubt, keep it formal and professional, reflecting the writing style you use at work. 

Control your technology

You might find yourself in a group chat with your cohort to discuss an assignment or in a chat with your Facilitator. Be sure you’re giving them your full attention by muting your microphone while they are speaking. Sounds can be distracting and you don’t want to take the focus away from what they’re saying.  

Use chat features to communicate. For example, if you have a question and you’re using a platform like Zoom, use the ‘hand raise’ feature on the screen menu so as to not interrupt the speaker. Unmute your microphone when it’s your time to speak – that one is always easy to forget! 

Stay focused

You’re likely scheduling course time during pockets of free time that revolve around your work and personal commitments. Therefore, it may be easy to lose concentration or get distracted. During designated study time, keep your focus by taking small steps towards a distraction-free zone.  

If you can, turn off your phone, switch off email or any distracting applications on your computer and find a comfortable spot where you can concentrate. Noises and general commotion around you can take away from your ability to focus, so where you set up for those hours is so important for getting the most out of your experience.  

Make time to network

Your cohort is your greatest networking opportunity. Find creative ways to connect outside of course work when you meet a classmate whom you think would make a great lasting professional connection.  

What is your goal for connecting? Once you know what your networking needs are and who you would like to connect with, reach out to that person. You can suggest a chat via email or connect with them on a professional platform such as LinkedIn, for example.  

If you both decide a long-term connection is mutually beneficial, schedule a regular chat to catch up virtually or put your learning into context by discussing the realities of the material in your careers.  

Maximum output = ultimate rewards

These simple steps to great online etiquette will not only ensure you have a smooth experience, but also that your fellow students reap the many benefits too. Ultimately, you get what you put in and online learning is no exception. You’re not only getting the unique opportunity to learn around your other commitments but also to expand your network during a time when in-person connections are difficult or impossible. Make sure you make the most of this chance to strengthen your knowledge and enhance your career opportunities…and remember – don’t forget to unmute! 

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