Scholars Online Science

Chat times for 2006 - 2018
Resources for All Science Classes


Dr. Christe Ann McMenomy

Chat Conventions

The Drs. McMenomy Online Classroom Etiquette

The Scholars Online chat is pretty robust, and had a lot of features that make it easier to use and more flexible than the old IRC text-only chats. There are some caveats, even so. If everyone talks about something different at the same time, we won't get anything done, and everyone will find it pretty frustrating. Other teachers may have different chat rules, and in their classes you should follow theirs. Here, though, are mine:

  1. Use your first name and last initial as your nick when you log into chat, or at least change to that nick when class starts and stick to it throughout chat, unless instructed for classroom activities to change your identity. While we can hover over your nick to find out who you really are, it's disruptive if you are constantly changing identities, especially during the first weeks of a course.

  2. When class is in session, DO NOT interrupt proceedings with personal messages of any sort unless the situation is an emergency. It is very disruptive to say hello to someone when people are trying to pay attention to what's going on. This is especially bad in chat because a) you can't just whisper: anything you say is as loud as the main business of the class. We'll try to give you a little bit of time at the beginning of class to greet each other, but if you come in late, read through the earlier part of chat quietly, figure out where the discussion has been and where it's now going, and then join in.

  3. If things seem to be going slowly, count to 10 (10 seconds). Try not to refresh your browser frequently: this puts greater load on the system. If you are very far from Seattle (where the school server lives), you may want to adjust your chat refresh rate to a LOWER number, which frees up bandwidth and actually can speed things up. Only do this if you seem to have consistent lag. Most of the time, temporary lags are due to conditions on the network we don't control and can't affect, so patience, in these moments, is a virtue that contributes to the solution.

  4. In classes with more than 10 students, I prefer that you "raise your hand" and be recognized rather than just blurting things out in response to a question or comment by the teacher or another student.
    • If you have a question, push the Ask Question button or type a question mark and <Return>. Your name will change to italicized red letters.
    • If you have a comment that is not a question, push the Raise Hand button or type an exclamation point and <Return>. Your name will change to bold blue letters..
    • When the teacher calls on you, your name will change to green, with an underline. You may then enter your answer.
    • If the teacher asks a yes/no question, answer one or the other by selecting the appropriate button on your screen, wait for a summary statement from the teacher, then recenter your name.
    • Use the Away button if you need to leave the computer for a few moments. That way we won't waste time calling on you and waiting for an answer. Your name will grey out, and you won't be able to enter anything until you "Return".
    • Use the Leave button when you leave class and aren't coming back. Your name will disappear from the screen and we will know that you are gone.

    We'll try to call on you in turn; we sometimes get to questions before comments, so don't get too fretful if we appear to take these out of order. We also make mistakes sometimes. Be patient.

  5. Often in smaller classes, I will ask you to "splat" your answers to a question. You do not then need to raise your hand, but can answer the question at will. One of the advantages of pure written chat is that we can sort out simultaneous responses.
  6. Do not use twitter or texting abbreviations or contracted spellings when answering a question or making a formal comment. Not everyone understands the abbreviations, but even more important is the fact that we are trying to develop your ability to write clearly and concisely, precisely and correctly. While you'll probably write tangled sentences and make grammatical mistakes once in a while in the heat of the discussion (we do ourselves from time to time!), do try to at least pay attention to your text editor spelling checker to avoid confusion.
  7. Just because of the way we talk here, and because we can't see when someone has stopped typing, it is helpful if we observe the following rules:
    • Write out your entry in a simple word processor like Notepad and proofread it. Then you can just copy and paste into the entry window when you are called on.
    • When you are entering a multi-line input, use two forward arrows (">>") to indicate that you have a continuation, and then say so with "Done" or some other terminal remark so we know that you are finished.
    • Don't write a couple of words and then hit carriage return just to write a few more words (at least, don't do this on purpose...). It is frustrating and distracting to see half a thought per line.
    • Everyone else will see that you still have something to say. Sometimes people use the ellipse (three dots: "...") for this, but people seem to use that to express other kinds of things, so we'd just as soon keep the two separate. Once you do this, hurry up and finish. Don't hold the door open while you muse extensively over the most elegant wording.
    • If you grab the floor and hold it for too long, we will interrupt and cut you off. Don't be offended: but the class is for everyone here. In general, you should not have to use ">>"more than twice.
    • Also, do bear in mind that in a situation like this we can't see anyone. If you say something that you mean in a sly or clever way, but which could hurt someone's feelings if they don't see your wink, be assured, someone will take offense at it. Think before you hit return, then, so as not to give offense; on the other hand, if you see something that seems offensive, think about whether it would really seem as offensive if you could hear it with a particular tone of voice. Don't lose your calm in either case; learning to put a charitable interpretation on things is part of a Christian education.

  8. And just because it probably needs to be stated -- we expect basic courtesy from everyone in class. You are free to disagree with anyone else, including your teachers, as long as you do so within the bounds of courteous behavior. YELLING, ridicule, and so on, will not be tolerated. Please be ready to participate actively -- a lively class is a thousand times more fun than a dead one -- but play by the rules.
  9. Normally, we would expect you to address you teachers with the appropriate title and surname, but since this is confusing to those of you who have classes with both of us, you may address me as Dr. Christe, if that helps you remember that you are in Physics rather than DrMcM's Latin AP class at the moment.