Faculty expect as much from you in an online space as they do in a face-to-face environment. Professional behavior is necessary for the long-term success of an online student. The basis of this chapter will be learning the fundamental behaviours in an online environment, such as effective communication with your professors and peers. Moreover, you’ll learn how to exhibit respect in your online lectures, and maintain academic integrity. Following this chapter, you will be confident, prepared, and excited about your online journey.
3.1 Online Professionalism
Professionalism during in-person interactions must be equally represented in the online environment. Professional online behavior includes using the proper tools (e.g. headphones, microphones, camera) to interact with others. This can also include ensuring that you use the “raise your hand” feature and allowing the professor to call on you before speaking. It is common courtesy when in your online lectures to mute yourself until it is your turn to speak.
3.2 Online Discussion Boards
In an online environment, discussion boards or chat rooms are a common form of communication between yourself and your peers. We often don’t realize how important it is to maintain a professional relationship with our peers in our online interactions. As we move towards online school, being professional and establishing a social contract helps build a finer community for online learners.
3.3 Importance of Communication Skills
Communication skills play a vital role in an online environment. The most efficient way of communicating with your professors and Teaching Assistants/Graduate Assistants (TA/GA) is by email. Some tips which can help you build a formal relationship include:
- Using a proper subject line to summarize your email
- Using the proper salutation when addressing your professors
- Briefly explain your question/inquiry in the body paragraphs
- Include a proper closing statement (Regards, Sincerely, etc.)
3.4 Academic Integrity
One of the biggest concerns in the online environment is academic integrity. Academic integrity is the commitment to honesty while exemplifying moral behavior in your studies. Universities have a very strict policy regarding plagiarism and failure to obey these policies could result in expulsion from your institution.
Professional behavior in an online environment will allow you to improve your communication skills and create professional relationships with both your peers and professors. Maintaining these relationships, along with being respectful and exhibiting academic integrity, are integral to your success. It is crucial to build professional connections that allow you to stay motivated while learning online.