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Netiquette: Communicating with the Internet Generation. Michael Imort Geography and Environmental Studies PowerPoint presentation available upon request from: mimort@wlu.ca. Outline. Welcome Introductions The problem: too much or too little? Strategies for Success

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netiquette communicating with the internet generation

Netiquette: Communicating with the Internet Generation

Michael Imort

Geography and Environmental Studies

PowerPoint presentation available upon request from:

mimort@wlu.ca

outline
Outline
  • Welcome
  • Introductions
  • The problem: too much or too little?
  • Strategies for Success
  • Best Practices (Roundtable/Groups)
  • Summary
student instructor communication the root of the problem
Student-Instructor Communication: The Root of the Problem
  • Three aspects of communication (‘Imort 2025’…)
  • Communication:
    • transmits factual information
    • represents the sender
    • addresses the recipient
the students perspective
The Students’ Perspective
  • Many students are only aware of the first aspect:
    • ‘the facts’
  • They overlook the other two, meta-textual aspects
    • the values expressed
  • Caution: students may be ignorant of the theory behind meta-textual value expressions, but they certainly are sensitive to their practical effects
      • …As my mother used to say: “People don’t remember what you said, they remember how it made them feel”
    • This should guide us when we communicate with students
student instructor emails
Student-Instructor Emails

In general, students evaluate the use of emails more positively the more frequently they use it.

When asked about the use of email in communicating with instructors, however, students evaluated it increasingly negatively the more they used it.

Waldeck, Jennifer H., Patricia Kearney and Timothy G. Plax (2001) Teacher e-mail message strategies and students' willingness to communicate online.Journal of Applied Communication Research Vol. 29, Number 1, February 2001, pp. 54 – 70.

in other words
In other words:
  • Students and Instructors do not seem to communicate well with each other over email.
    • Status difference?
recap
Recap:
  • First: students may not realize they are sending meta-textual messages that may affect the recipients in unintended ways.
slide8
Second: even when made aware of their shortcomings, students often don’t know how to fix them because they haven’t been taught proper ‘tone.’
slide9
Third: students may not think they need to change their tone, because they think that is simply the way communication works in the age of the Internet.
possible causes for students shortcomings
Possible causes for students’ shortcomings
  • Any ideas?
    • Convenience
    • Informality
    • Coded online language (e.g., TTYL, LOL)
    • Facelessness and outright anonymity
    • Expectation of immediacy – no reflection
internet generation
Internet Generation
  • It is common to see these and other behaviours as characteristics of the Internet Generation, also called:
    • Millennials
    • Generation D (for digital)
    • Generation M (for me, media, and marketing)
  • and, more recently,
    • iGeneration (iPod)
    • MySpace Generation
the horizon of the internet generation
The Horizon of the Internet Generation
  • Globalization of interpersonal connections (only virtual ones, of course)
  • Real-time communication
  • Immediacy of responses
  • The world exists only online
  • Repeatability of attempts without penalty (video games to exams to relationships)
  • Technology is a cause, rather than an effect
can you understand this language
Can you understand this language?

”Hello there,

Are there any out-of-the box handhelds that run Linux/Apache/MYSQL and PHP?  Does Redhat, Suse, or Gentoo support any handhelds?

I know the Zaurus comes close, but I’ve heard people have problems running LAMP applications on it.”

today s students courtesy of bob sharpe
Today’s Students:(Courtesy of Bob Sharpe)
  • are (and aspire to be) consumers rather than producers of knowledge.
  • do not see computers or the Internet as technology.
  • no longer make a distinction between what happens in cyberspace and what happens in the physical world.
  • don’t expect to necessarily understand a subject or even have a working knowledge of it. Instead, they are satisfied when they know where to find answers.
  • consider skills more important than knowledge.
bottom line
Bottom Line:
  • The Internet Generation simply takes technology for granted
  • Students adapt their communicative behaviour to technology (e.g., cryptic text messaging: TTYL, LOL, R U r8y)
  • At the same time, students expect us to function the same way.
  • So, our first mission is to make them realize that professional communication through the new technologies still is subject to those ‘old fashioned’ conventions.
  • How do we do that?
    • Personally, I have had some success with three interconnected strategies:
      • 1. making sure my own communications are good examples of what I preach
      • 2. setting some general rules for communicating with me
      • 3. using (modified) templates when responding to individual offenders
2 nd strategy setting general rules
2nd Strategy: Setting General Rules
  • In class, I give obvious and offensive examples of what not to do
    • Shame factor (without personal reference)
    • Human tendency to see the flaws in others’ actions where we can’t see them in our own
  • Four ‘offenses’ (in the original sense)
offense 1 unprofessional email addresses
Offense 1: Unprofessional Email Addresses
  • Real-life Examples (with my apologies…):
    • tightchick@hotmail, assgroove@yahoo
  • Response:
    • Visible (FROM THE STUDENT PERSPECTIVE): none
    • Hidden Consequences (FACULTY PERSPECTIVE): blocking, loss of consideration etc.
    • Alternative: template response
  • Advice to students:
    • Use Laurier account
    • Second best: create professional email account
  • Options for faculty:
    • Clear communications policy for your course only:
      • Require course code in subject line, e.g., “GG102 question”
      • Requires professor to define email filter
offense 2 trial balloons
Offense 2: ‘Trial Balloons’
  • Assumption:
    • Emails have lower status threshold (or: “it can’t hurt to ask in an email”)
  • Response:
    • Visible: rejection
    • Hidden Consequences: possible loss of understanding and good will
    • Alternative: modified template response
  • Advice to students:
    • always discuss sensitive matters face to face
      • Human ‘face’
      • Advise that email format plays down gravity of request (effort on part of the student must equal the desired accommodation by the professor)
  • Options for faculty:
    • Insist on seeing students during office hours
offense 3 tone
Offense 3: Tone
  • Examples:
    • ‘Hey teach, wazzup’
    • ‘Yo dude, wheres [sic] those marks posted?’
  • Response:
    • Visible: (indignant) silence
    • Hidden consequences: insulted feelings
    • Alternative: template response
  • Advice to students:
    • “grow up…”
  • Options for faculty:
    • Set clear expectations for formality (with examples!)
offense 4 content
Offense 4: Content
  • Examples:
    • run-on sentences, lack of formatting, poor grammar, confusing syntax, etc, pp.
  • Response:
    • template response
  • Advice to students:
    • “grow up…”
so what does grow up mean
So what does ‘grow up’ mean?
  • This is where we have to step up and fulfill our obligations as instructors and mentors:
    • Third strategy
3 rd strategy template responses to individual offenders
3rd Strategy: Template Responses to Individual ‘Offenders’
  • Objectives:
    • Address the issue
    • Set clear expectations and boundaries
    • Give examples
    • Minimize the time spent on that task in the future
  • Solution:
    • Prepare templates for most common offenses and modify them as necessary
examples of templates
Examples of Templates

For unacceptable addresses/servers:

“Please Note:

Your email has not been read as your professor has defined a filter that rejects emails from your server in order to block spam, viruses, etc.

Please use your internal Laurier email account ONLY to communicate with faculty and administration at Wilfrid Laurier University.

This is an automated reply.”

examples of templates27
Examples of Templates
  • For ‘Trial Balloons’

“Dear Lisbeth,

Thank you for your recent email. I believe the issue you raised in your email is too important (grave, sensitive, complicated, etc.) to be resolved via email. I encourage you to see me during my office hours at your earliest convenience.

Regards,

MI”

examples of templates28
Examples of Templates
  • For improper tone or form of address:

“Dear Django,

Thank you for your recent email. Please be reminded that communications with your professor should reflect a certain level of respect and professionalism. Unfortunately, your email did not conform to the standards of formality and tone expected in a university setting.

As soon as you make the effort to compose an email that meets those standards, I will be glad to respond in an appropriate fashion.

Regards,

MI”

examples of templates29
Examples of Templates
  • For poorly written emails:

“Dear John,

Thank you for your recent email. Unfortunately, it did not conform to some of the most basic standards of written communication. As soon as you take the time to compose a properly written and formatted message, I will take the time to compose a response.

Regards,

MI”