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Etiquette is defined as the formal manners and rules that are followed in social or professional settings.

Netiquette is a combination of the words network and etiquette and is defined as a set of rules for acceptable online behavior. Similarly, online ethics focuses on the acceptable use of online resources in an online social environment.

Virtual Meetings

  • In smaller meetings of 15 or less, the webcam should be activated. 
  • In larger meetings of more than 15, webcams are encouraged.
  • When webcams are active, please refrain from excessive movement/activity that would be distracting to the meeting attendees (i.e., eating and/or drinking, moving in and out of camera view, typing at your keyboard, chatting with others in the room).
  • Prior to the start of the meeting be sure to check your lighting, surroundings and any alarms you may have set. Remove yourself from other potentially noisy items such as pets, televisions and children.
  • Attendees should mute their microphone immediately upon entry and keep on mute unless speaking.
  • Minimize off-camera distractions/conversation to fully engage in the meeting.
  • Share applications, files and multimedia directly to save bandwidth instead of sharing your screen. Have these open prior to starting the meeting.

Virtual Classes

  • Arrive on time and stay for the entire class. Notify your instructor prior to the meeting if you will need modifications or adjustments.
  • Mute your microphone upon entry and keep muted unless speaking.
  • Be prepared to turn on your webcam/video, if requested by your faculty.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • When webcams are active, please refrain from excessive movement/activity that would be distracting to the class attendees (i.e., eating and/or drinking, moving in and out of camera view, typing at your keyboard, chatting with others in the room).
  • Prior to the start of the class be sure to check your lighting, surroundings and any alarms you may have set. Remove yourself from other potentially noisy items such as pets, televisions and children.
  • Minimize off-camera distractions/conversation to fully engage in the class.

Discussion Board Netiquette and Guidelines

When posting on the Discussion Board in your online class, you should:

  • Make substantive posts in the discussion boards. In other words, the post contributes to the understanding and application of ideas that demonstrate having read and thought about content that is provided as well as required reading(s).
  • Provide new insights or raise a question for further discussion that reflect a depth of consideration of the ideas presented.
  • Build on the ideas of others by adding details, examples, or new interpretations gleaned from outside readings.
  • Review and edit your posts before posting. It may be helpful to type in a word processing software like Microsoft Word to check for spelling and grammar errors.
  • Be as brief as possible while still making a thorough comment. Substantive posts do not have to be long and not all long posts are substantive.
  • Always give proper credit when referencing or quoting sources. Use APA guidelines for citations and references (the hanging indention for a reference is not necessary in the discussion board platform).
  • Avoid very short, replies such as, “I agree.” You should include why you agree or add to the previous point. The point of a discussion in an online course is to help you and your other students learn through in-depth consideration of important topics.
  • Be respectful of others’ opinions at all times, even when they differ from your own. When you disagree with someone, you should express your differing opinion in a respectful, non-critical way. Do not use all caps.
  • Be open-minded as because that is an important principle of classroom discussion.
  • Tailor your style of dialogue to mirror that of the values of nursing — caring, professional, personal, empirical, ethical and aesthetic knowing, etc.
  • Be cautious when using humor or sarcasm as tone is sometimes lost in a discussion post and your message might be taken literally or offensively.
  • Be careful sharing personal information (both yours and others).
  • Follow HIPAA guidelines, including not posting confidential patient information.

Online Course Netiquette

  • Engage fully in the course by interacting with course materials by attending class, logging in regularly to Canvas, meeting deadlines and demonstrating evidence of preparation. Be present with small group work, online discussion boards and other opportunities to interact with the content and peers.
  • Communicate appropriately. When participating and communicating in an online course, remember you are interacting with real people. Your peers may not interpret your words as you intended without the benefit of nonverbal communication.
  • Be respectful. Work to understand different ideas in an atmosphere free from discrimination. Professional expectations and Standards of Behaviors found in the SON Student Handbook are relevant to an online course as well as face-to-face classes.
  • Be honest by turning in work that is generated from your own ideas and understanding and is free from plagiarism.
  • Respect privacy. Some assignments or online synchronous sessions may ask students to share personal information or experiences relevant to the topic at hand. Do not share your peer’s personal information or patient information. UMMC's Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources Policy (A-IP-OIS-SEC-PO-00001) can be found on the UMMC Intranet.

Email Netiquette

When you send an email to faculty or classmates, you should:

  • Use a clear and descriptive subject line to give the recipient a reason to open your email.
  • Be brief. Do not make the reader have to scroll to read the entire message.
  • Put the most important part at the very beginning. They may not read it to the end.
  • Avoid attachments unless you are sure your recipients can open them.
  • Sign your message with your name and return email address.
  • Think before you send the email to more than one person. Does everyone really need to see your message? (Corollary: Be sure you really want everyone to receive your response when you click, “reply all”. Be mindful that the Outlook App automatically defaults to “reply to all.”)
  • Similarly, be sure that the message author intended for the information to be passed along before you click the “forward” button.
  • If you are sending an email while upset or angry, think about not sending it until you’ve cooled off. A 24-hour resting period is often a good idea.
  • Be cautious with sarcasm. Because people cannot read your tone of voice or facial expressions when you are typing, sarcasm may be misunderstood.
  • Never send spam.
  • Use good grammar and avoid using slang.
  • Do not type in ALL CAPS.
  • Reply to your emails — even if they were not intended for you.
  • Nothing is confidential — so write accordingly.

Civility is the authentic respect for others, presence, engagement and an intention to seek common ground. Civility is apparent when we are sensitive to the impact that our communications, practices and behaviors have on others, and when we acknowledge each person's self-worth and unique contributions to the community as a whole. At the School of Nursing, we are committed to learning and practicing in ways that support a caring and socially just environment. The following are examples of how we create and sustain civility:

  • Support the autonomy and just treatment of self and others by facilitating an open, respectful and caring environment.
  • Accept responsibility and accountability for one's own behavior when interacting with patients, students, faculty and staff.
  • Speak or behave in a manner that does not disrupt or interfere with the learning or work of others.
  • Practice personal and academic integrity and expect it from others.
  • Demonstrate respect for others by actively discouraging discriminatory conduct, violence, coercion, or intimidation against any member of the academic community.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to listen and be open to hearing the perspectives of others. This includes actively seeking to hear from others and creating a safe space for voices of dissent.
  • Explore controversial issues through open dialogue and respectful deliberation.

Netiquette Guidelines

Netiquette or “net etiquette” refers to ethical code of conduct regarding communication using the Internet. Good netiquette involves respecting the privacy of others, not doing anything online that will disturb or frustrate other people, and not abusing computing resources of the college including, but not limited to, email, online chat, online
discussion and web posting.

  • Be careful what you write about others. Assume that anyone about whom you are writing will read your comments or receive them in a way other than intended.
  • Online messages can be quite informal, but try, nevertheless, to express yourself using proper spelling, capitalization, grammar, usage and punctuation.
  • Be truthful. Do not pretend to be someone or do something that you are not.
  • Consider your audience and use language that is appropriate. Excessive use of abbreviations or slang in a non-technical chat room, for example, can be bad manners. Remember that your audience may not understand your chat abbreviations.
  • Avoid offensive language, especially comments that might be construed as discriminatory.
  • Remember that the law still applies in cyberspace. Do not commit illegal acts online, such as libeling or slandering others, and do not joke about committing illegal acts.
  • Be careful with humor and sarcasm. One person’s humorous comment may push another person’s buttons or may even be seen as offensive.
  • Avoid putting words into full capitals. Online, all-caps is considered SHOUTING. Especially in the chat area if you are following up a previous message or posting, summarize that message or posting.
  • Read existing follow-up postings and do not repeat what has already been said.
  • Respect other people’s intellectual property. Do not post, display, or otherwise provide access to materials belonging to others, and cite references as appropriate.
  • Online expressions of hostility will not be tolerated.
  • Do not send email to people who might have no interest in it. In particular, avoid automatically copying email to large numbers of people.
  • Avoid chastising others for their online typos. To err is human. To forgive is… what we do. In online chats, typos and misspellings may occur. Do not retype the message or correct unless the message cannot be understood. In discussions, please be sure to use proper spelling, capitalization, grammar, usage and punctuation.

Adapted from: WNMU Netiquette

Other resources:

Academic Integrity (in the SON Student Handbook)

UMMC Code of Conduct (section III of the UMMC Compliance Plan, available to employees by logging into the UMMC Intranet)


This webpage was adapted from netiquette resources of the following universities: Arizona State University, Iowa State University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Memphis and University of Virginia School of Nursing, as well as the SON Collaboration for Innovation in Nursing Education. This work was conducted by a special netiquette taskforce led by Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs Dr. Audwin Fletcher as a guide for all faculty, staff and students to provide guidelines for use when in various virtual environments. Other taskforce members include Dr. Joe Tacy, Anitra Blake, Dr. Kayla Carr, Dr. Eva Tatum, Amy Robertson, Dr. Chelsey Andries, Dr. Kim Douglas, Nancy Ladd and Dr. Sharon McElwain. It was adopted by the Faculty Organization April 2021.