The netiquette of the Open University, or how to behave appropriately online

Online discussions are often used in Open University studies to support learning. To ensure that these discussions are appropriate and promote both your and your fellow students’ studying and learning, it is important that you follow the netiquette of the Open University.


Different writing styles

In the online environment, people write in different ways for different purposes:

  • On the forum, writing corresponds to speech, meaning that less attention is given to grammar and spelling.
  • In contrast, good standard language and spelling must be used when completing written learning assignments and coursework. Students will be informed of any exceptions to this general rule when they receive assignments.

Do not offend others

All online discussions and email messages should follow the rules of correct communication.
Stay on topic and try not to offend others or refer to their personal lives. Some participants may feel very strongly about particular discussion topics or styles of communication. Do not write messages or comments if you are feeling emotional or upset because you usually end up regretting them later.

Interpreting messages

A written text may be interpreted differently from what the writer intended. That is why you should pay particular attention when writing a message. Clear, concise, matter-of-fact and well-structured texts are usually interpreted correctly.
Try not to ramble or stray too far from the topic. Use lower-case letters, as CAPITAL LETTERS are commonly interpreted as shouting. You can use bold font for emphasis and emoticons to make it easier for readers to interpret your message.

Examples of emoticons

:-( Sadness, regret, upset
Confusion, worry
Wink, humour

Inappropriate messages may be deleted

Discussion in the learning environments is part of studies. Its purpose is to promote learning and improve the positive learning experience of the whole group. 
Messages that are inappropriate or offensive or which otherwise violate the netiquette guidelines may be deleted.