Because of its distance learning format, most communication between instructors, students and administration is through email or through the discussion forums on the website. The nature of email and discussion forums holds important implications for the principles of privacy and freedom of speech. It is therefore important that all members of the Kepler community be aware of basic protocol and some of the major pitfalls involved.
Kepler must have your current email address when you register or whenever you change to a new email address. You must also change your email address in your login profile so that fellow students and instructors can reach you.
Email is less private than you may expect. Don’t say anything in writing that you don’t want to be responsible for in the future.
Email intended for one person can be forwarded to others. Email sent to Kepler instructors, administration or staff may be considered part of Kepler records and subject to disclosure in the event of litigation.
Unfortunately “phishing” (whereby a sender disguises the origin of an email so that it appears as if coming from a legitimate source) is widespread. Forwarded emails may be easily modified. As with print documents, if you have any doubts, check with the purported sender for validation.
Kepler will not be an arbiter of the contents of email or of comments in online discussions. We cannot protect anyone from receiving email they may find offensive or block anyone from sending email. We may delete online comments that are offensive, or violate these guidelines.
It is easy to misinterpret meanings and emotions in a written exchange. When you communicate in person, you have facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice to communication your meaning. When you communicate electronically, all you see is a computer screen; all you have for are the written words without other context. It is easy to forget that in reading an electronic communication, you may be misinterpreting the other party’s meaning and that in writing an email, your words can be misinterpreted.
Kepler strongly encourages all members of its community to use the same personal and professional courtesies and considerations in their email and online comments or discussions as they would in other forms of communication.
Kepler’s electronic communication policy includes the following rules:
- Do not use emoticons in online discussions.
- Do not send commercial advertisements to a Kepler email list, such as all students in a class, all staff or all instructors. Do not post commercial advertisements as part of a discussion or comment.
- Any announcement that may be construed as a commercial advertisement should be cleared first with the Kepler administration.
- If you wish to communicate to the entire class, do it through the discussion forums, not through personal email.
- If you have a personal disagreement with another person (not over the content of an idea or point of view), keep it private. Do not use the online discussion forums or comments to voice personal disagreements.
- o Only cc individuals who are directly involved in a disagreement or have a significant influence over the disagreement.
- o Do not cc an entire group of people who are not directly affected. For example, a student who has a disagreement with his/her instructor may copy a co-instructor or the administration. S/he may not include the entire class, entire student body or entire staff.
- o Anything relating to a student grade or evaluation is considered confidential. Only include the instructor and possibly the administration in communications.
· In all cases, "flaming" is not acceptable. "Flaming" is a term used for emails where criticism gets personal, angry and/or rude. Tact is not the objective. Students who flame other students, instructors or staff risk being excluded from the program. Examples of flaming include not just words, but also sending communications in all caps or bold, which indicates yelling.
· If a disagreement is not resolved with the exchange of two or three emails, contact the individual via telephone or, if possible, in person. If it is a matter related to Kepler, you can ask the office for an outside arbitor.