Because of its distance learning format, most communication between instructors, students and administration is through electronic mail or through the discussion forums on the website. The nature of email and discussion forums holds important implications for the principles of privacy, educational freedom 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
In particular, students should keep in mind that the electronic nature of email and the public character of Kepler as a business make email less private than you may expect. For example, email intended for one person may be widely distributed because of the ease with which recipients can forward email to others. In addition, email which a student has sent to Kepler instructor, administration or staff may be considered part of Kepler records and subject to disclosure in the event of litigation.
Students should also be aware that there is no guarantee that an email they have received was in fact sent by the person or organization stated. Unfortunately “phishing” (whereby a sender disguises the origin of an email so that it appears as if coming from a legitimate source) is widespread on the internet. In addition, forwarded email may be easily modified. As with print documents, if you have any doubts, please check with the purported sender to validate the authorship and authenticity of the email you received.
In general, Kepler cannot and does not want to be the arbiter of the contents of your email or of comments in your online discussions. We cannot protect you from receiving electronic mail you may find offensive. We may delete online comments that are offensive, or violate these guidelines. In addition, 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 interpretation are the written words. It is easy to forget that in reading an electronic communication, you may be misinterpreting the other party’s meaning.
Because of the pitfalls involved in electronic communication, 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 send any commercial advertisement to a Kepler email list, such as all students in a class, all staff or all instructors. In general, if you wish to communicate to the entire class, please do so via the discussion forum rather than sending personal emails.
- Do not post any commercial advertisement 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 have a personal disagreement with another person (a disagreement that is not over the content of an idea or point of view), keep it private and , email or phone that person directly. Do not use the online discussion forums or comments to voice personal disagreements.
- You may cc individuals who are directly involved in a disagreement or have a significant influence over the disagreement.
- Do not cc an entire group of people who are not directly affected by your disagreement. For example, a student who has a disagreement with his/her instructor may copy another instructor or the administration. S/he may not include the entire class, entire student body or entire staff.
- Anything relating to a student grade or evaluation is considered confidential, so it is highly inappropriate for you to include other students in communications with instructors and staff because they cannot respond to those individuals regarding your personal situation.
- "Flaming" is not acceptable. "Flaming" is a term used for emails where criticism gets personal, angry and/or rude. Flaming expresses a strongly held opinion without holding back any emotion. Tact is not the objective. Students who “flame” other students, instructors or staff risk being excluded from the program.
- If you have a significant disagreement that is not resolved with the exchange of two or three emails, contact the individual via telephone or, if possible, in person. If this is not acceptable or possible, then ask the office for an outside negotiator.