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Learning Activities
E-Mail and Netiquette


"In face-to-face conversation, subtle body language and intonation let us know how our speech affects the other person. These cues are completely absent when using e-mail.
- (North West Net, 1995, p.59).

The Internet electronic mail (e-mail) system is the backbone of the Internet, and was the original motivation for developing the Internet itself (Hahn & Stout, 1994). Within the Internet there are literally millions of different mailing addresses as well as thousands of email mailing lists devoted to the discussion of specific subject areas.

E-mail systems are being used quite routinely now within most colleges, universities, health care agencies, community health services, as well as the general population at large. Information shared using an e-mail system is immediate: data, records, files, documents, even books can be addressed to a recipient and received instantly.

A code of behaviour called "Netiquette" or "Network Etiquette" has developed along with the popularity of the Internet. Nurses learning to use e-mail systems have a responsibility to incorporate netiquette principles within their own online communications.

Ends in View

This learning activity is intended to give the learner the opportunity to:

1. Develop awareness of netiquette principles for communicating with others online.

2. Appreciate the potential for communicating with a variety of global individuals using an Email program.

3. Recognize the importance of incorporating principles of responsibility, accountability, ethics, and confidentiality when using an e-mail program.

4. Demonstrate beginning skills in sending e-mail messages and subscribing to discussion mailing lists.

In Preparation

1. ESTABLISH AN E-MAIL ACCOUNT: If you are unfamiliar with e-mail systems, you can attend a campus orientation system, and establish a student e-mail account (you are automatically assigned an account upon registration at KPU - it is generally "firstname.lastname@email.kpu.ca").

2. Read: Sherwood, K. D. (2001). A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email. at:http://www.webfoot.com/advice/email.top.html

In Practice

If you are not already using an e-mail program, establish a student account at Kwantlen, or sign up for a free web-based email address suc as Yahoo or Gmail, or a personal Internet account through a local Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as Telus, Shaw, and so on.

1. E-mail Messages:

Practice writing and sending e-mail messages to:

a) Your classmates, family, colleagues.

b) Your faculty instructors.

Remember to incorporate the principles of Netiquette and using "Smileys" (see guidelines at the end of this learning activity).

Ask your message recipients to give their feedback (within their email reply) about your message writing in relation to:

a) expressions of warmth, respect, genuineness

b) clarity and succinctness

c) appropriate use of self-disclosure

d) congruence between your intended message and your recipient's perception of your intention.

2. E-mail Discussion Mailing Lists

Once you are comfortable with sending email messages, you can become a member of various discussion mailing lists. Messages sent to a central mail server to a list are distributed to all of the subscribed list members (this can range from a dozen to hundreds of list members, depending on the popularity of the list topic focus. It is simple to respond to messages that interest you by clicking on "Reply" when reading a list-sent message. If you are subscribed to a mailing list, you will receive a copy of each posted message sent by other list members. This email volume can range from no mail to dozens of messages per day. You can often subscribe to a "digest" version of a mailing list's messages, where all messages sent by members within the last 24 hours are grouped together within one email message, and sent once daily.

1. Subscribe to a discussion list which is focused on some area of interest related to concepts you are studying in Semester Two.

Some potential choices available can be found at http://www.4nursing.com/listservs

Take note of the "threads" or popular topics that emerge on the discussion lists you join.

Which topics or issues initiate a hearty response from the list members?

Which "threads" initiate no response?

Do the members practice netiquette?

Which ones initiate a derogatory or "flaming" response? A flame is a caustic, negative, sometimes very aggressive, even rude response to a posted message. Most lists do not approve of flaming.

Note: Further information and instructions for more discussion mailing lists are available on the Nursing Informatics website HERE or by clicking on the "Lists" button above.

In Reflection

1. What unique advantages did you experience by communicating with others by e-mail?

2. What limitations in communication did you experience?

3. How could e-mail communication be used by nurses to further develop nursing as a profession?

4. How could using e-mail benefit families and clients living with a chronic health challenge?


Hahn, H. & Stout, R. (1994). The Internet complete reference. Toronto: Osborne-McGraw-Hill.

North West Net. (1995). The Internet passport: North West Net's guide to our world online. (5th ed.) Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Sherwood, K. D. (2001). A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email. Available Online at: http://www.webfoot.com/advice/email.top.html

Netiquette Guidelines

1. Always be polite and considerate of others. Never send or keep anything that you would mind seeing broadcasted on the Evening News:^)

2. Do not send mail or reply to mail when you are "flaming",...in other words angry, tired, upset, or irritable. Cool off first. Wait until you calm down or can speak to the person directly.

3. Think before you reply!!! Do not write anything online if you would not say the same thing to the recipient face-to-face. Be professional about what you write to others (e-mail can be forwarded, and many people have ended up having the message forwarded to the person being gossiped about).

4. As a general rule, focus on one subject or topic per e-mail message. Keep your message brief and specific (a maximum guideline is one or two e-mail screens worth).

5. Make the visual layout of your message pleasing for the recipient. It should be easy to read, watch your spacing, lower and upper case usage, indentation, spelling, etc.

6. Do not capitalize an entire message like this: IT MEANS YOU ARE SHOUTING IN E-MAIL LAND!!! Use a combination of upper and lower case characters, just as you would if you were writing a pen and paper letter or memo.

7. Always begin an e-mail message with a descriptive Subject Heading in five words or less.

An appropriate subject line allows recipients to organize their e-mail messages using keywords or subject headings.

8. Express emotions gracefully. Use "Smileys" to add an indication of your emotional intent.

For example:

From: you@email.kpu.ca (your email address)

Date: September 6th, 2021

To: John.Doe@kpu.ca (main recipient email address)

CC: Mona.Lisa@kpu.ca (carbon copy of message to)

BCC: Rusty.Nails@kpu.ca (blind or hidden carbon copy of message to)

Subject: Staff Meeting

Body of Message:

Hello Everyone,

The staff meeting has been scheduled for Monday January 27th.

See you there:^)




Using existing keyboard characters, you can create smileys which substitute for non-verbal cues which would normally be demonstrated physically and by facial expressions when speaking face-to-face.

Character Definition

:-) or :^)         Happy, Joking

>;-) or ;^)         Winking (to soften a seemingly sarcastic sentence)

:^(         Frowning, Sad, I'm Upset, Feeling grim

:^l         I'm indifferent

:^() or :^O         Wow!

>:-,         Smirk

:-ll         I'm angry!

:-*         Oops!

:-T         I'm keeping a straight face.

:^D         Said with a big smile

:-#         My lips are sealed

;-&         I'm absolutely livid!

l-{         Good Grief!

:-O         Uh-oh!

:-&         I'm tongue-tied!

8-l         Eyes wide in surprise!

NEXT: Professional Portfolios: Spreadsheet Application ....Next.

Nursing Informatics Integration for the BSN and BSN-AE Nursing Programs at Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Design & Content by June Kaminski, RN MSN PhD(c) - 1999 - 2021
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