Lesson 13: Emoticons, Acronyms

The most important thing to understand about emoticons and acronyms is when it's OK to use them in class and correspondences. Most instructors allow them in emails and chats, but not in "academic" postings and papers. Be sure to check with your instructor to find out what is allowed in your class.

Whether you are using email or the Discussion Board, you should also be aware of some other issues:

  • When attaching a file, make sure your recipient(s) can open it. For example, if you attach a WordPerfect document, there's a chance that someone doesn't have a program to open that file. It's best to stick with Microsoft Word or RTF (rich text format). If you know how to create PDF documents, anyone can read those with Adobe's free PDF Reader.
  • When attaching a file, make sure your document isn't overly large. Some email programs won't allow you to receive a document that exceeds a file size limit, and Blackboard might not even let you attach such a large file.
  • Before attaching a file, scan it for viruses. Your recipients -- and their computers -- will be grateful.

Here are some specific tips for writing email:

  • Identify yourself in your email… your name may be in your email address but it is good practice to identify yourself in the body of an email so your instructor doesn’t have to search for who you are.
  • Make sure that the subject line of your email is relevant. Your instructor and classmates should be able to tell what the topic of your email is just by glancing at the subject line. If your instructor gave you directions on exactly what to write in the subject line for email sent to her, follow them. Some instructors won't accept emails that don't follow the class protocol.
  • When replying to an email, choose to include the original message in your reply for easy referral by the originator.
  • Before you send your email, review it to make sure it says exactly what you want it to say.

A couple more things about email in an online course: First, don't forward someone else's email without their permission. Second, read your instructor's policy on how quickly he or she will reply to your email. Keep in mind that instructors are not online and teaching 24/7 although they are required to reply to your email within 24 hours. In the world of texting and instant messaging 24 hours can seem like a long time so if it is an emergency it may be easier to make a phone call.