email.jpgThe use of email has changed from a way to communicate to becoming a valuable tool in education. Just like with any technology tool, the question is how to maximize the potential of email for eLearning. It is important to know that there are guidelines that you should follow when using email as a tool for eLearning. Take a look at the lists of useful tips below, for teachers and for students, to make sure that you have the most up to date email etiquette.


Teacher Tips for Emailing

  1. Respond in A Timely Manner - Responding quickly will ensure that you stay current with discussions, assignments, and topics. Plus, it is common courtesy. Try to attempt a 48 hour rule of returning emails.
  2. Feedback is Important - People would like to know how they are doing in class, assignments, and other areas of the class so let them know frequently.
  3. Reference Prior Emails - When corresponding through emails it is always beneficial to reference prior communication. It demonstrates that you are aware of prior questions and topics that have been covered through emails.
  4. Avoid Miscommunications - When writing emails, the recipient cannot pick up any visual clues so write in cordial and non-confrontational language. Remember that when writing emails you must think that you are speaking to someone face to face so make your message clear and to the point. Avoid flame wars or arguments online with students or colleagues.
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# Print Hard Copies - Print a hard copy of controversial or important emails. By printing a hard copy, you can keep a paper trail and record all communications and you have proper documentation to support you.
  1. Include Original Email - When replying to an email from a parent it is always a good idea to include their original email in your reply. By doing this both you and the parent can be assured that you have answered all of their questions.
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Student Tips for Emailing

  1. Subject Line - The subject line should identify the content in your message so that the recipient can quickly identify the topic to be addressed. In addition, the subject line should be meaningful and clear.
  2. Remain Professional - When emailing a teacher or adult always check over the emails to make sure that they get straight to the point and do not involve any slang or unnecessary abbreviations
  3. Keep It Simple - A clear, concise email message is easier to respond to than one that is excessively long.
  4. Proofread Before You Send - Check the spelling, grammar, and punctuation of emails prior to sending them.
  5. Include Information When Asking Questions- Make sure that you include a page number, article title, etc... when asking for help from your instructor. This will better help your instructor to understand how to help you.
  6. Answer All Questions - Try to answer all questions as thoroughly as possible to avoid receiving additional emails.
  7. Make It Personal - A warm, pleasant tone of voice will help make your emails personal and meaningful. Take the time to add your own personal touch to your message.
  8. Avoid Instant Message Habits - Refrain from using instant message short cuts and slang in email messages.
  9. Reread Before Sending - Always reread your emails before sending them.
  10. Confirmation - People who are new to email may expect responses or confirmations that the message has been received. A simple note back to the sender saying "Thank You" or "Message Received" may relax them.
  11. Signature - Always sign your full name at the end of an email so that the receiver can identify who the author is.


What to do When You Run into Trouble

1. Email Miscommunications- Yes, it really does happen, and when it does, try to remain calm first and foremost. Don't ever respond to an email when you're angry. This is because you can aggravate the situation. Try to explain what you meant in the most positive way you know of, try to be clear and concise and if worse comes to worse...avoid emailing and pick up the phone to talk to the person.
2. I Can't See You- Lacking Visual Cues- The recipient of your message really can't see you, your facial expressions and/or visual cues such as body language. This is important to remember when you are already in some hot water. AVOID sarcasm, emotional words and dancing around the problem. Be direct but friendly and try to get to the bottom of the issue at hand.
3. When a Discussion Spirals Out of Control- When your conversation seems to have no end in sight, it is always good practice to go back to the initial email to remember what the topic was. So many times, emailers go off on tangents that seem to lead further away from the initial thought. Revisiting that first email can help to narrow the focus back on track.
4. Help, I'm in a Flame War!- A flame war occurs when the emailers get into a heated word exchange (argument). This can lead to further miscommunication and cause greater problems. When you do find yourself in a flame war, it is important to take a step back and rethink the what the point of the email was in the first place. Try to let your emotions cool down before responding. This will improve your tone as well as your thought process. Once you prioritize what's really important, and cool down, try to clear up the misunderstanding. Get to the point and be polite about it. *If you are in flame war, visit the web site Hacknot to learn tricks on how to outwit your opponent in a flame war.


Classroom Lessons

Use these links below to help teach your students about email etiquette and safety.
    1. Email Manners: http://www.cybersmartcurriculum.org/lesson_plans/45_10.asp
    2. Email Safety: http://www.cybersmartcurriculum.org/lesson_plans/45_05.asp
    3. Email netiquette: http://www.atacc.ab.ca/makegoodconnections/7-9email.html
    4. Proper Email behavior: http://www.learnthenet.com/english/lessons/150lesson.htm
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Online Resources

Case study of email rhythms:
http://www.hpl.hp.com/research/idl/papers/rhythms/ECSCWFinal.pdf
Email Safety
www.wiredsafety.org/safety/email_safety/
Internet Safety 101: Email Safety
http://familyinternet.about.com/cs/internetsafety1/a/safety05.htm
Email Netiquette
http://www.iwillfollow.com/email.htm