Communicate and collaborate online

Aims and objectives

This module will:

  • explore the advantages and disadvantages of different methods of online communication
  • examine tools for communicating and collaborating online.

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • communicate effectively, respectfully and safely in interactive online environments
  • evaluate and select different tools for communicating and collaborating online.

1. Ways to communicate online

Being able to communicate effectively online is a key digital skill needed for study, the workplace and throughout your life. People use online tools to discuss topics, share information, complete tasks and work on group assignments and projects. To thrive in a digital world we need the skills to communicate effectively in any situation.

Types of online communication

Ways that we communicate online:

  • Text-based — includes email, discussion forums, texts, messaging and chat
  • Video and audio — includes online meetings and conferences, screen and application sharing, virtual worlds and gaming
  • Social media — can encompass a variety of media, including text, images and video


People communicating online don’t have to be in the same place or responding at the same time.

Increased productivity and efficiency

Time isn’t wasted waiting for all the participants to get to the same location. People can respond when it suits them.

Skill development

Communicating online to learn, share insights and complete collaborative projects helps you to develop the digital literacy skills that employers value. Organising meetings, co-creating content, managing workloads, problem-solving and interacting respectfully, all through the use of online technology, are crucial skills for your future employability.

Think about a time you were communicating online that it didn’t go well. Maybe the other person misunderstood what you were trying to say or you misinterpreted their response.

Why do you think it went wrong?

Disadvantages of online communication

Word or time limits

In online communication there may be word or time limits that prevent you from fully explaining everything you want to say. Research shows that people tend to scan and skip online content rather than reading the complete text word for word. Your audience may not focus enough to grasp your key message.

No visual or tonal cues

In text-based communication you can’t use your face or voice to convey your meaning. We look at the people we are interacting with face-to-face to gauge their reaction or mood. Does their facial expression or body language indicate interest or boredom, anger or happiness? Does their tone of voice indicate a joke or a serious statement? Even in video or audio meetings subtle cues or nuances can be lost when you can’t hear or see people as clearly as you would face-to-face.

Conversation pace

In video or audio meetings and text based communication the normal flow of conversation is distorted. Delays in responses can cause frustration and confusion.

This article looks at how awkward pauses and interruptions in online communication affect how we perceive each other.

Retracting statements

You may not be able to retract or remove a statement that you didn’t really mean to say or write. Once you post a comment or say something in a recorded online meeting there is a chance that you won’t be able to delete it.

Duration:   Approximately 30 minutes

Graduate attributes

Knowledge and skills you can gain to contribute to your Graduate attributes:

Effective communication Effective communication

 Critical judgement

 Ethical and social understanding

Check your knowledge

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