I am relatively new at blogging for an audience other than the immediate staff I work with at my school. Now that I only work with a small number of people I decided to put myself “out there” by advertising new posts on my blog by updating twitter page. This has led to many more readers making the journey to my blog to see what I am contributing. What I soon experienced made me very aware of the dangers of communicating in text…miscommunication.
What happened to me is a common thing that likely has happened to everyone. I miss read what someone else wrote in a comment. This led to me feeling a bit frantic, and eventually a little embarrassed, because I thought I had done something wrong, violated some sacred blogging code that I hadn’t realized. In reality, someone was simply asking me what I thought. After communicating back and forth a few times I realized I hadn’t really stolen someone else’s idea and I actually had an engaging conversation with someone in another country (very cool by the way).
The point of my ramblings is that it is all to easy to misunderstand someone when communicating via text. There is little room for expression or tone, which can make deciphering meaning all the more difficult. As we move to a more globally connected world, where we interact with people in other time zones and in more asynchronous ways, it is important that we prepare our students to be more literate so they don’t fall into the situation I did. Here are some things to keep in mind when writing online:
- Try to explain what you mean as clearly as you can, in as simple a way possible. Don’t write an essay for a two sentence response.
- If someone misquotes or misunderstands you, let them know. They likely didn’t understand what you meant and might just take an example to clear up the situation.
- If you don’t know what someone means, ask them to clarify. Maybe you overlooked something and the author can help you clarify.
- Use examples to explain your point. This can easily be done by linking to other sources on the Internet.
- Don’t freak out when someone challenges your ideas. Conflicting ideas is how we learn, so embrace different opinions and be passionate about what you’re discussing.