July 16, 2010, Newsletter Issue #217: Chat and discussion group ettiquette for online master's degree programs

Tip of the Week

As a student in an online master's degree program in homeland security it is very likely you will be using chat rooms and discussion groups for at least part of your class work. These tools can enhance communication, but they can also cause misunderstandings if not used thoughtfully.

1. Be professional. Treat your fellow students as you would co-workers. Be respectful and polite, even when working out a disagreement. Don't give out a lot of personal information too quickly.

2. Use humor with care. Humor and sarcasm do not always make a smooth transition when written down.

3. Respect diversity. Your classmates may come from other parts of the country or from around the world. What makes perfect sense to you may be confusing, unclear or rude to someone else. Be sensitive to these differences.

4. Argue the facts. In an online master's degree setting, debate is a natural by-product of the learning experience. Homeland security is an especially controversial topic. When you're involved in a disagreement, be sure to address the ideas being discussed and not the person. Personal attacks will make people tune out what you're saying.

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