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UCF’s Office of Student Conduct is responsible for the Rules of Conduct and conduct regulations as published annually in the Golden Rule Student Handbook. The Rules of Conduct include a special section on Computing and Telecommunications Resources that is particularly important to UCF students engaged in online activities. Look for section 14, “Misuse of Computing and Telecommunications Resources.”

Protocols are guidelines or ground rules that will help your online course experience run smoothly. Your instructor will provide a set of protocols for you to follow for your particular course. Though each course is different, the majority of these protocols define the late submission policy, the email policy and the online etiquette policy for your course. The protocols are usually located under the “Syllabus” or “Start Here” link in your course.

Online Expectations

The following ground rules will help facilitate your work in online courses. Please carefully review these expectations and follow them.

Refer to Your Course Syllabus

The guidelines listed below may differ from course to course. The course syllabus will specify any course policies on expectations for assignments, conduct and etiquette.

  1. Academic integrity will be appraised according to the student academic behavior standards outlined in The Golden Rule Student Handbook.
  2. Don’t turn in late assignments. Most instructors do not accept late submissions.
  3. Keep up with the reading. You will likely have quite a few chapters, modules, discussion postings and email messages to read for your online class. Students who keep up with the reading tend to do much better in online classes than those who do not.
  4. Don’t miss quizzes. Most instructors may not allow quizzes to be retaken.
  5. You are required to make every effort to work effectively and promptly with others in any group work. Your failure to work effectively with others can significantly affect your collaboration and participation grade.


Email will be an integral part of online courses. Make sure you:

  • Check your email at least twice per week.
  • Be patient. Don’t expect an immediate response when you send a message. Generally, two days is considered a reasonable amount of time to wait to receive a reply.
  • Include “Subject” headings. Use something that is descriptive and refers to a particular assignment or topic.
  • Be courteous and considerate. Being honest and expressing yourself freely is very important, but being considerate of others online is just as important as in the classroom.
  • Make every effort to be clear. Online communication lacks the nonverbal cues that fill in much of the meaning in face-to-face communication.
  • Do not use all caps. This makes the message very hard to read and is considered “shouting.”
  • Check spelling, grammar and punctuation. You may want to compose in a word processor, then cut and paste the message into the discussion or email.
  • Break up large blocks of text into paragraphs and use a space between paragraphs.
  • Sign your email messages with your full name.
  • Never assume that your email can be read by no one except yourself. Others may be able to read or access your mail. Never send or keep anything that you would not mind seeing on the evening news.

Discussion Topics

Many of the “rules of the road” or protocols that apply to email also apply to the use of Discussions. Use the following conventions when composing a Discussion posting:

  • During a Discussion assignment, deadlines for posting to and replying will be specified with each assignment. It is a good practice to always check the Discussions multiple times during the week.
  • If you want to send a personal message to the instructor or to another student, write an email rather than a Discussion post.
  • Be patient. Don’t expect an immediate response when you make a Discussion post.
  • Compose your post in your word processing application in order to check spelling, punctuation and grammar, then copy and paste your composition into the Discussion.
  • Everyone should feel free to participate in class and online discussions. Regular and meaningful discussion postings may constitute a substantial portion of your grade.
  • Respect each others ideas, feelings and experiences.
  • Be courteous and considerate. It is important to be honest and to express yourself freely, but being considerate of others is just as important and expected online, as it is in the classroom.
  • Explore disagreements and support assertions with data and evidence.
  • Do not use postings such as “I agree,” “I don’t know either,” “Who cares?” or “ditto.” They do not add to the conversation, take up space on the Discussion topic and will not be counted for assignment credit.
  • Avoid posting large blocks of text. If you must, break them into paragraphs and use a space between paragraphs.
  • Your instructor may create ungraded Discussion topics for other purposes. For example, a Technical Discussion topic would include questions about technical issues, or a Help Discussion topic would ask for questions about course material or assignments. For graded assignments, there will be specific Discussion topics. Pay close attention to the assignment and post appropriately. Disrespectful and rude comments will not be tolerated.


A virus can spell disaster for an online course. Your use of a reputable anti-virus program is a requirement for participation in online courses.

Have a Backup Plan

Create a backup plan for unexpected issues such as a crashed hard drive or loss of internet. “My hard drive crashed,” “My internet stopped working” and “My printer is out of ink” are today’s equivalents of “My dog ate my homework.” These events do occur, and they are inconvenient when they do. However, these are not valid excuses for failing to get your work in on time.