Sanchez Elementary School Online Mentoring Program

Online Culture:
fun and frustration

People have many, many different personality "styles" in e-mail exchanges, and, collectively, mentors and protegés will probably represent all of them:

Whether using e-mail or a chat room, communicating in a text-only format can be a challenge. Written online exchanges can't tell you everything about a person, and can even be unintentionally misleading. Sometimes, you have to interpret people's written communication and even help them be more clear and effective online.

Never make assumptions about what you are reading. Don't think that a person is mad at you unless they have said, "I am mad at you." Don't assume someone does not want to talk to you because they've written a very short note instead of a long one. Ask questions, double check, and read what you've written a few times before you send it off.


None of the following is required reading! But if you want to learn even more about the nuances of communicating with people online, become a part of an online discussion group. Note, however, that NONE OF THESE GROUPS are affiliated with this mentoring program or the Virtual Volunteering Project.

Start by joining groups that interest you personally -- for a particular hobby, your favorite author, a sports team you follow, even a political issue. You can find online discussion groups for just about any subject you can think of at these site:

As you observe (or "lurk") on these groups, notice the variety of ways people relate to each other via written communications, the differences in communication styles among people of different age groups, professions, or geographic areas. The more you read, the more comfortable you will become at your own abilities to communicate online.


For those of you who want to reall delve in depth into the subject of online culture further (again, it's NOT required reading; we just thought it would be helpful to those of you really interested in such):

V E R S I O N: December 15, 2000
Return to the main page of Online Mentoring Guidelines and Activities

Return to the main page of the Sanchez Elementary School Online Mentoring Program


VERSION: December 15, 2000


Return to the main page of the Sanchez Elementary School Online Mentoring Program

This web site is Copyrighted © 2000 by Jayne Cravens

Permission is granted to quote from this web site so long as the author and web site are noted.
Please notify me if you intend to use these materials or to quote me. You don't have to, but it would be appreciated.

This resource was developed by Jayne Cravens for Sanchez Elementary School in Austin, Texas;
the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin; and the Virtual Volunteering Project.
This online mentoring program is no longer operational; these web materials have been preserved to help other schools develop their own online mentoring programs. You can find more online mentoring resources here